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Georges Rouault Prints

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“For me painting is a way to forget life. It is a cry in the night, a strangled laugh”- Georges Rouault.

This great French painter was born in 1871 in Paris. His mother, recognizing his interest in arts from a very early age, inspired him to take up glass painting and restoring apprenticeship. After Rouault joined the French art school, École-des-Beaux-Arts, Gustave Moreau, the famous colorist and symbolist became his teacher. Rouault was Moreau’s favorite student. Moreau’s influence can be seen in the works of Rouault where the subjects were mostly Biblical.

From 1902 he established himself as a Fauvist painter. Rouault became the curator of Moreau Museum in 1903. He bagged the Concours Chenavard award honoring his works.

From 1912 he also started proving himself as an Expressionist in his works. Germany was the birth of expressionism; where the paintings mainly tried to capture the subject’s emotions.

Strictly devoted to Catholicism, around 1917 he started painting primarily religious subjects, establishing him as one of the top religious artists in 20th century. The World War I and the sorrows of it, were his inspiration for his work Miserere et Guerre. His compassion for the underprivileged, and the violence in World War I, led him to paint it.

Art dealer Ambroise Vollard’s contract with Rouault supported Rouault’s finances for many years. The contract also had its downside due to Vollard’s greed and his attempt in monopolizing his favorite artists’ works. As a result, Rouault’s Miserere gained publicity only by 1927. When his old paintings were finally exhibited, they were appreciated by several critics who thought the style was something fresh. After Vollard’s death, Rouault finally received a release from his contract and could also get back 800 of his paintings. Among the 800, he destroyed all those paintings that he felt were imperfect and continued working on the rest of them to achieve the standards he had set for himself.

The 1930s and 1940s were great decades in his life where he exhibited several of his works in several great museums in Boston, Washington DC and several other places. Impasto painting, a technique involving application of paints in thick layers was discovered by Rouault. Most of his works are defined by the thick black outlines defining the forms. Head of Christ, Old Kings depict his mastery over this style.
Besides his numerous contributions in art, he also had his share of contributions in poetry and prose. Stella Vespertina, Souvenir intimes are few of his notable works. The Prodigal Son, a ballet by Sergei Diaghilev also had the costumes and sets designed by Rouault.

Some of Rouault’s famous works of art are Miserere et Guerre, The Three Judges, Self Portrait, The old King, The Clown, all of which are now exhibits in the greatest art museums all around the world. Rouault was presented with the Commander of the Legion title, honoring his contributions to art. A state funeral was organized after his death in 1958. Till date, Rouault remains as one of the major advocates of modern religious art.

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