Rousseau's portraits represent some of his most disconcerting paintings. His depictions of children are especially unnerving: fiercely independent, with adult demeanors, they appear neither playful nor innocent. Rousseau also gave his sitters peculiar props, such as an oversized marionette or an upturned branch used as a cane. In traditional portraits such props are often symbolic, but here they resist explanation. This, along with puzzling settings and alienating expressions, lend the sitters an unfamiliar, mysterious air and make the established genre of portraiture seem strange as well.