GEORGES ROUAULT (1871 – 1958)
Georges Rouault, a French painter, printmaker, ceramist and maker of stained glass, who drew inspiration from French medieval masters, united religious and secular traditions divorced since the Renaissance.
Rouault, who was born in Paris, enrolled in a course at the Paris École des Arts Décoratifs in 1885. From 1885 to 1890 he was apprenticed in a glazier's workshop, and restored medieval stained-glass windows, including those of Chartres cathedral. In 1891 he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, where he soon became one of the favorite pupils of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, in a class that also included the young Henri Matisse and Albert Marquet. After the death of Moreau in 1898, a small Paris museum was created for his pictures, and Rouault became the curator.
His early style was academic. But around 1898 he went through a psychological crisis. Partly under the influence of Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne, he evolved in a direction that made him favor the arbitrary use of strong color. Until the beginning of World War I, his most effective medium was watercolor or oil on paper, with dominant blues, dramatic lighting, emphatic forms and an expressive scribble.
Rouault, who was an ardent Roman Catholic, began to frequent the Paris law courts, where he had a close view of humanity apparently fallen from the grace of God. His favorite subjects became prostitutes, tragic clowns and pitiless judges.
Between World Wars I and II, Rouault devoted much time to engravings. During and after World War II, he painted an impressive collection of clowns, most of them virtual self-portraits. He also executed some still lifes with flowers, but mostly painted the human figure.
Roy Donald McMullen