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Summary Article: Rouault, Georges Henri
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

French painter, etcher, illustrator, and designer. He was one of the major religious artists of the 20th century. Early in his career he was associated with the Fauves, but created his own highly distinctive style using rich, dark colours and heavy outlines. His subjects include clowns, prostitutes, lawyers, and religious figures, as in Christ Mocked (1932; Museum of Modern Art, New York).

He met Matisse at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and exhibited with him and the Fauves 1905, though he had more affinity with the German expressionists than with his French contemporaries. His works convey both an acute awareness of suffering in the world and a deep religious belief: compassion in his depictions of clowns and prostitutes gives way to harsh social comment in his pictures of lawyers and judges, as in Les Noces (Tate Gallery, London). His sombre view of the human condition is conveyed by sombre tones and distortions of form, though as time went on he gave his religious themes something of the dusky richness of stained glass.

He illustrated books for the art dealer Ambroise Vollard, for whom all his productions were reserved for many years. The etched plates for Miserere 1948 (executed 1922–27) represent a major achievement in 20th-century graphic art.

Rouault was born in Paris. He served an apprenticeship as a boy with a painter of stained glass, and later studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Gustave Moreau. After the death of Moreau 1898 he was made curator of the Musée Gustave Moreau.


Rouault, Georges Henri

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