Rouault was a loner amongst the painters of the 20th Century.
Almost unique is his position as a dedicated religious painter, in whose
work the content prevails over the form.
Is style reminds immediately of medieval coloured stained glass windows.
Already as child he was acquainted with his grandfather's collection
His interest for art was furthered, perhaps fundamentally, through the
that he took an apprenticeship with a glass painter at the age of 14.
In 1891 Rouault joined the Ecole of Beaux Arts; and in the following
became Gustave Moreaus' student.
A dear friendship developed between both painters on the grounds of
common interest in medieval art and also for art that expressed emotions.
Rouault's early works clearly show the influence of Rembrandt's work,
he accepted willingly. As of 1898 until 1902 Rouault lived apart from his
During this time he was extremely unhappy, his world view was tragic.
early work this attitude first showed at about 1906 openly when his works
At about the same time he befriended the writer Leon Bloy, an ascetic
religious personality who exerted a considerable influence over Rouault,
although both opinions over the works of the painter collided heavily.
Perhaps Rouault was possibly motivated through the reading of Bloy's
Femme pauvre" to the
first picture of his series of pictures of prostitutes. In 1903-04 those
paintings were uniformly characterised by a dominance of dark colours,
however, this changed already dramatically in the following two years.
Although Rouault is generally regarded as an expressionist he was only
artist group in contact, namely the Fauves; which is due to the fact that
their works were exhibited in the Salon d'Automne in 1905.
These contacts were, however, only very casual as Rouault's vehement
expressionistic style digressed for example from the relaxed cheerfulness of
In 1905-06 Rouault's expressionism reached a climax, which was rarely
The colour seems to have been applied with such a force that it resembles
what the American abstract expressionists would develop in years to come
Many of these works are watercolours.
The figures in the paintings - prostitutes and numerous circus people
present with a hallucinatory power. He used to use brighter shades of colour
and worked with increasingly big surfaces; little room remained in the
picture that was not painted with hasty, ardent brush strokes.
The painting "Clown and Theatre Box" of 1906 is one of his best pictures
this period: The tragedy not only manifests itself in the exceptionally bold
brush strokes but also in the intense figure of the clown as well as in the
loneliness of the three figures in the box that is represented with a
minimum of methods but with the same fanaticism.
The time of the high expressionism lasted unabated until approximately 1910.
Then his paintings were painted with a more densely painted surface
until his death, only marginally changed. But there was still a certain
sense of tragedy to be detected in his work, however, the tension lessened
and his feelings for mankind seemed to have softened.
At around 1907 Rouault began a series of "Paintings of Judges".
Apparently, he looked upon this line of business disdainfully; presumably
because he saw them, like Daumiers did: as an Apotheosis of bourgeois
This series reached its first climax - he later picked this subject
repeatedly - in his painting of "The Three Judges" of 1913.
In this picture the cruel satirical depiction of the three men conjures
the spirit of Daumiers: one the a judges appears sly and wolf-like, the
other greedy and lazy, the third one grins and looks stupid; the whole
composition is a vicious accusation against a respectable institution.
The colours are held in glowing dark shades, accentuated with strong
line around objects, reminding of glass-painting.
In the paintings of 1917-18 one can detect a more liquid, however little
changed style. The painting of the three beautiful "Clown" pictures are of
1917: "Clowning", "Three Clowns" (St. Louis) and "The Old Clown" (Paris) -
examples for his mature style.
1918 he painted a crucifixion, a touching work that characterises his
iconography and anticipated many of various other religious pictures that
were to follow.
In the following ten years Rouault painted only few pictures because
himself to the graphic technique at the suggestion of his art dealer,
"Misery and War", which proves his continuous experimentation with different
techniques, is his main work of this period and at the same time one of the
graphic masterpieces of the 20th Century.
In the 1930s Rouault's style reached its climax.
In many of his works the mood is more relaxed than it had been ever before.
Now he even painted flowers, in which he used dark, subdued colours,
exclusively for decorative purposes.
Something almost elegant and decorative lies in such well-known paintings
like "The Old King" (Pittsburgh) of 1937, on which the colour seems somehow
clotted in order to give the impression of a jewel.
Since this time the tension of the works of 1907 until 1917 is missing
his works as well as in the etchings of the 1920s.
Rouault had found his subjects, which constituted themselves particularly of
depictions and circus figures; his style was forged, his characteristics
His style changed constantly; many of his last works have been coalesced
with a dominant
yellow ochre colour; in some respect these works remind of his first master
Selection of works:
BASEL Art Museum, The poet Paul Verlaine, paper, 59x44
[cm]. - [Privat-Slg prostitute]< r, 1906, watercolor and pastel, 70x54
[cm]. - [BUFFALO] (New York) [Albright-Knox] type of Gallery X
1911, paper on wood, 79x58 [cm]. - [CHlCAGO Slg] L. B, block
[uPassionrc], 1943, canvas, 704x74 [cm]. - LONDON Tate Gallery
[uTetes] ä [Massacrea], 1907, paper on canvas, 75x705 [cm]
- NEW YORK [Knoedler] bile-ream» self-portraits, 1926
Canvas, 57x47 [cm]. - Museum of Modern Art "The Three Judges"
1913, cardboard, 76x705 [cm] l» burial,1930, [Gouache] and pastel
29x50 [cm] l» [Verspottung Christi]<, 1932, canvas, 92x72 [cm]
[Slg] W. P. [Chrysler nHaupt Christis], 1905, canvas, 174x79 [cm]
PARIS [Musee] National [d'Art] Modern» young worker<, 1925
Canvas, 68x52 [cm]. - Privat-51g>, [Mondschein], 1952, [Leinw].
46x33 [cm]. - [Slg] St. S. [Niarchos uDer] old C/ [ownrc], 1911, cardboard
702x76 [cm]. - PITTSBURGH (Pennsylvania) museum [of] type,
RUSSELL into the catalog of the showing» [Rouault] (Tate
London of 1966. - G. [MARCHIORI Georges Rouault], Paris, in
[Canne] and Milan of 1965. - P. [COURTHION],> George [Rouault]
London of 1962. - and following [ZVERINA],> George [Rouault], Prague of
L. [VENTURI Rouaultr], Geneva of 1959. - /. T. [SOBY], C. O. [SCHNIE]
WIND into the catalog of the showing [Georges Rouaultr] (Museum of
Modern Art), New York of 1945. - [L.VENTURI uGeorges Rouault]
New York of 1940. - M. [WHEELER] into the catalog of the showing [the]
[prints of] George [Rouaultrc] (museum [of] Modern Art), New York
1938. - R. [COGNIAT uGeorges Rouauar]~, Paris of 1930. - G. [CHAREN]
[SOL uGeorges Rouaultrc], Paris of 1926. H. R.