Georges Rouault

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Georges Rouault (c. 1920)
Georges Rouault, 1905, Jeu de massacre (Slaughter), (Forains, Cabotins, Pitres), (La noce à Nini patte en l'air), watercolor, gouache, India ink and pastel on paper, 53 x 67 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Georges Henri Rouault (French: [ʒɔʁʒ ʁuo]; 27 May 1871, Paris – 13 February 1958) was a French painter, draughtsman, and print artist, whose work is often associated with Fauvism and Expressionism.

Childhood and education[edit]

Rouault born in Paris to a poor family. He was born in a Parisian cellar after his family's home was destroyed in the Paris insurrection of 1871. His mother encouraged his love for the arts, and, in 1885, the fourteen-year-old Rouault embarked on an apprenticeship as a glass painter and restorer, which lasted until 1890. This early experience as a glass painter has been suggested as a likely source of the heavy black contouring and glowing colors, likened to leaded glass, which characterize Rouault's mature painting style. During his apprenticeship, he also attended evening classes at the School of Fine Arts, and in 1891, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, the official art school of France. There he studied under Gustave Moreau and became his favorite student. Rouault's earliest works show a symbolism in the use of color that probably reflects Moreau's influence, and when Moreau died in 1898, Rouault was nominated as the curator of the Moreau Museum in Paris.

Early works[edit]

In 1891 Rouault painted The Way to Calvary. In 1894, Rouault won the Prix Chenavard.[1] From 1895 on, he took part in major public exhibitions, notably the Salon d'Automne (which he helped to found), where paintings with religious subjects, landscapes, and still lifes were shown. Rouault met Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, and Charles Camoin. These friendships brought him to the movement of Fauvism, the leader of which was considered to be Matisse. In 1905, he exhibited his paintings at the Salon d'Automne with the other Fauvists. While Matisse represented the reflective and rationalized aspects of the group, Rouault embodied a more spontaneous and instinctive style.

His use of stark contrasts and emotionality is credited to the influence of Vincent van Gogh. His characterizations of overemphasized grotesque personalities inspired the expressionist painters.

Expressionist works[edit]

In 1907, Rouault commenced a series of paintings dedicated to courts, clowns, and prostitutes. These paintings are interpreted as moral and social criticism. He became attracted to Spiritualism and the dramatic existentialism of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, who remained a close friend for the rest of his life. After that, he dedicated himself to religious subjects. Human nature was always the focus of his interest. Rouault said: "A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human."

In 1910, Rouault had his first works exhibited in the Druet Gallery. His works were studied by German artists from Dresden, who later formed the nucleus of expressionism.

From 1917, Rouault dedicated himself to painting. The Christian faith informed his work in his search for inspiration and marks him out as perhaps the most passionate Christian artist of the 20th century: first of all, in the theme of the passion of Christ. The face of Jesus and the cries of the women at the feet of the cross are symbols of the pain of the world, which for Rouault was relieved by belief in resurrection.

In 1929, Rouault created the designs for Sergei Diaghilev's ballet The Prodigal Son, with music by Sergei Prokofiev and choreography by George Balanchine.

In 1930, he also began to exhibit in foreign countries, mainly in London, New York, and Chicago.

In 1937. Rouault painted The Old King, which is arguably his finest expressionist work.

In 1939. Rouault advised French art dealer Paul Rosenberg on several purchases. One of them is a Christ flagellé shown at the Van Leer Family's house.[2]

He exhibited his cycle Miserere in 1948.

At the end of his life, he burned 300 of his pictures (estimated to be worth today about more than half a billion francs). His reason for doing this was not profound, as he simply felt he would not live to finish them.[3]

Rouault died in Paris on February 13, 1958, at the age of 86.

Photograph of house in Beaumont sur Sarthe, Pays De La Loire, France, claiming Georges Rouault to have lived there


  1. ^ "Georges Rouault". Retrieved 25 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Letter from Georges Rouault". The Morgan Library & Museum. 25 July 2017.
  3. ^ Rouault, text and notes by Joshua Kind, Tudor Publishing, New York, 1969.


  • Dyrness, William A. Rouault: A Vision of Suffering and Salvation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 1971.
  • Maritain, Jacques. Georges Rouault. The Pocket Library of Great Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1954.
  • Getlein, Frank and Dorothy Getlein. George Rouault's Miserere. Milwaukee: Bruce, 1964.
  • San Lazzaro, G. di. Homage to George Rouault. New York: Tudor, 1971.
  • Courthion, Pierre. Rouault. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. 1961.
  • Kochno, Boris. Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes. New York: Harper & Row. 1979.

External links[edit]