Artist: Georges Rouault
Medium: Color aquatint on paper
Size: 44.3 x 34 cm
Location: Plate XX from Les Fleurs du Mal, edition of 250.
“Georges Rouault was one of the few modern artists whose work was clearly religious,” notes Bill Dyrness, Professor of Theology and Culture in Los Angeles. But though Rouault was a life-long Roman Catholic, his work was anything but Christian in the traditional sense. Too much of it seemed overly gloomy and depressing. Indeed for most of his life the Church resisted the darkness of his work—not until the end of his life did he receive a church commission. But this print, done at the height of the artist’s powers as printmaker, shows how deeply the artist identified with peoples’ sufferings and, indeed, saw within this darkness the salvation that Christ brought. It was especially in his graphic work that his religious vision took shape.
Georges Henri Rouault (May 1871 – February 1958) was a French painter, and printmaker. Rouault was born in Paris into a poor family. His mother encouraged his love for the arts, and in 1885 the fourteen-year-old Rouault embarked on an apprenticeship as a glass painter and restorer, which lasted until 1890. This early experience as a glass painter has been suggested as a likely source of the heavy black contouring and glowing colors, likened to leaded glass, which characterize Rouault's mature painting and printmaking style. The Christian faith informed his work in his search for inspiration and marks him out as perhaps the most passionate Christian artist of the 20th century.