At the age of fourteen, Rouault was apprenticed to a painter of stained glass and worked on the restoration of medieval windows. Some years later when he was an established painter, Rouault came to know the Catholic novelist Léon Bloy. Rouault had a deep love of humanity and a hatred of injustice. He was a life-long admirer of Rembrandt. His art is a synthesis of all these elements, and not surprisingly, his finest work nearly always deals with religion.Rouault began painting Crucifixions in 1898. The subject remained with him and recurs frequently in his subsequent work. He used many mediums—gouache, lithography, etching, oils—in his attempt to communicate the religious importance of that event.Our Crucifixion,
begun in 1911, was not finished until 1922. It reflects Rouault's first experiments in segmentizing painting. The segmentation recalls his early apprenticeship as do the luminous browns, blues and greens with their resemblance to light-struck stained glass. A heavy impasto, thickly applied by a palette knife, forms the corpus and the cross. Through the strength of his textural form and his strangely luminescent colors, Rouault achieved mystical impact.“I do not believe either in what I touch or I see. I believe only in what I cannot see and in what I sense,”1
Rouault once said. He succeeded in translating this nearly medieval religious fervor into the idiom of modern art.Endnotes
Referenced Work of Art
- James Thrall Soby, Georges Rouault: Paintings and Prints, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1947, p. 14.
- Georges Rouault, French, 1871-1958. The Crucifixion, 1911-1922. Oil on canvas, 39 1/2” x 29 1/2”. Signed lower right: G Rouault. Accession 55.1.CollectionsAmbroise Vollard, Paris; Sam Salz, New York; The P. D. McMillan Land Company, Minneapolis, 2 November, 1953; The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Gift of the P. D. McMillan Land Company, 14 July, 1955.ExhibitedBelgrade, Municipal Museum, 1930.
Stockholm, Nationalmuseum, Twentieth Century French Art, 1938.
Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Expressionism 1900-1955, 1 February-11 March, 1956.ReferencesRichard S. Davis, “The Institute Receives Gift of Two Expressionist Paintings,” The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin, XLIV:33-9, September, 1955.