Jaguar Attacking a Horse by Henri Rousseau

By Wednesday, April 12, 2017 ,

Why would a jaguar attack a horse? Can a jaguar even attack a horse? 

May be jaguars are fast but horses have long limbs and that counts for something. I know that because I have short limbs and I know the struggle. 

Not to mention, there is a weight factor in play as well. Jaguars inherently cannot be heavier than 100kg. On the other hand, a horse’s weight can go from 400-1000 kg. One kick from a horse and the jaguar wouldn’t even be able to get up.

So why would an artist paint a jaguar attacking a horse? Well, the same artist who has never been to a jungle - Henri Rousseau.

About Jaguar Attacking a Horse

Rousseau lived in France his whole life. With a city life, he never really had the opportunity to go out of France and see actual jungles, but he really wanted to paint jungles. So he decided to do his own research and find a way to paint them by visiting botanical gardens and circuses. 

Considering how horses and wild cats were part of circus groups back in the day, its possible that Henri saw these animals there and decided to paint them together. 

I tried zooming into the painting really hard and I even amped up the brightness to see if I could see the jaguar’s face, but it is nowhere to be found. 

But I do love how the white horse, with his hairs flaring in the wind, is right in the middle of the painting and staring at the viewer. Even with the jaguar attacking, the horse doesn’t look scared, in fact I feel like it is trying to say - I got this bitch. 

The plants and flowers in the painting very distinctively resemble Rosseau’s other jungle paintings, including the Dream, which I talked about last week. 

In fact, I noticed, that Rosseau has a very signature style when it comes to painting leaves and flowers, they all look the same - The difference is only in their size. 

My thoughts on the painting

Rousseau’s paintings are avant garde and quirky at the same time. They were done in early 1900s and yet, they still manage to look so modern and unique. 

There is something so enticing about the white horse in the middle but I just cannot figure out what it is. I have been staring at it since the last five minutes and it feels like I just cannot look away. 

May be, Rousseau didn’t want to depict a jaguar defeating a horse, may be he just wanted to do a painting about how a jaguar tried to attack a horse and couldn’t even pin him down. 

Or may be he just wanted to remind us that our hairs can look just as fierce, even when someone is trying to put us down in a fight.

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  1. Oh my another interesting painting though the image says Vincent Van gogh on the blog - mystified by that!!
    I like the horse too -reminds me of the one in the nursery in so many of the Enid Blyton books where the toys come alive at night ;-)
    Theme: Peregrination Chronicles (travel)
    J is for Japanese dancers in the hot sands of Pushkar #atozchallenge

  2. A painting I didn't know but I agree that the central position of the horse rivets the eye of the beholder on it and the expression of the horse certainly doesn't make you think it's a gonner!! There is plenty of story within the painting - why is there a white horse in the jungle? Why is the jaguar attacking it? Is someone riding the horse or were they riding it? What will the outcome be> Lovely to meet through the A-Z Challenge :)

  3. Haven't seen this painting before. Thanks for the insight. <a href=">G is for Google. #AtoZchallenge.</a>

  4. A very peculiar taste...
    Your eye for details made me read and re read the fine prints and have a closer look at the pictures! What an insight I could get!!
    As for the horse, I think he is also wondering..."What on earth made this jaguar even think of attacking me? Do you have any idea?"
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

  5. Your blog was fun to read and I like the painting

  6. Aye aye for the hair point!

    I liked the way you explained the weird thought behind the painting. Who else could do a painting like this, if not someone who hadn't even seen a jungle in his life!

    I agree, the painting has that same vividness like The Dream. In fact, I keep thinking that it looks like something I'd see in a 3D movie. But then, I guess that's just me :D

  7. Eugène Delacroix painted in 1855, more than fifty years before, a similar scene which may be the inspiration and real reason why Rousseau chose this animals, even the horse's face look familiar. "Jaguar Attacking a Horseman", National Gallery in Prague.

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