I would hesitate to call myself a Rousseau expert, but I did read a lot
about Rousseau during the making of the video and the writing of the book.
The story that is usually told is that in 1908 Picasso planned the banquet
as a sort of homage to Rousseau. Guests included Apollinaire, Leo and
Gertrude Stein, and George Braque (among others). The food for the banquet
had been mistakenly ordered for the following day, so the group made do with
wine and sardines. It is said that 50 bottles of good wine were consumed.
Everyone was more than likely intoxicated when Rousseau began to play his
violin. It was during the violin playing that the candle wax from a colored
lantern dripped onto his head.
During this party is when Rousseau allegedly told Picasso that they were two
of the greatest artists of their time. Apollinaire then composed a poem
making fun of Rousseau's fabricated trips to the jungles (which Rousseau did
Some historians think that this party was a mean-spirited get together to
make fun of a simple-minded man. Others think it was a real party to give
honor to Rousseau upon the occasion of his sale of a painting (for 5
francs). My take is that it was probably a little of both.