Painted in 1910, at the cusp of the modernist revolution that swept from Paris across the globe, Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream” is a dense jungle of imaginative intensity. Created by a toll collector and self-taught painter, “The Dream” quickly captured the imagination of the French intelligentsia. Having never left his native France, Rousseau, often derided by his colleagues for his artistic aspirations, created a wealth of works that can be seen today as mental travelogues. Taking his inspiration from contemporary images of colonial explorations, children’s books, wildlife books and postcards, the artist wiled away his spare time at both the Jardin des Plantes and the French National Natural History Museum. The result is not a cold field drawing of an exotic curiosity but a dense and deeply personal intermingling of the popular iconography of urban Paris. Innocuous beasts that paw their way through the jungle thicket are gradually occupying Rousseau’s dream. They are the arbiters of the fantastic that infiltrate the day-to-day inanity of the artist’s ticket-punching responsibilities. It is a fantastic example of mental travel made by an artist nearing the end of his natural life, never able to journey beyond the confines of the urban jungle of Paris. With a departing sense of hope, intense fascination with the world, and a firm belief in the powers of the creative process, Rousseau’s spirit and primitive style became a manifesto for subsequent generations of artistic innovators. Often mocked by his contemporaries, Rousseau’s painterly hallucinations were not the product of a prestigious schooling in the academies, but a consequence of an inquisitive, complex mind, carried away by love and a yearning for variety.