Georges Rouault (born May 27, 1871 died February 13, 1958) was an outstanding French creator of the 19th-20th centuries, painter and graphic artist, writer, creator of stained-glass windows and tapestries, ceramics and enamels, illustrator and designer of theatrical performances.
Rouault was extremely gifted in many areas of art. It is customary to rank his paintings as Fauvism, but the artist’s multifaceted, diverse work hardly fits within one direction. Georges Rouault experimented with styles and materials, painted not only in oils, but also mixed watercolor with gouache and pastel, and worked with the back of the brush.
Some of his paintings look like they have been fired in a kiln. He paid close attention to every detail, creating masterpieces for years, and sometimes decades, repeatedly painting over old layers. And this gave the works a special effect the dried paint showed through the fresh one and the works seemed to begin to glow.
Biography of Georges Rouault
Georges Rouault was born on May 27, 1871 in Paris, the son of a cabinetmaker Alexandre and his wife Marie-Louise. Rouault’s parents were far from art, unlike his maternal grandfather, who was fond of collecting reproductions of famous paintings.
As a child, the boy liked to draw, and his parents encouraged this desire. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to stained glass artist Emile Hirsch. Such training was considered very prestigious. Georges Rouault carried his love for stained glass throughout his life, in many works the influence of this type of creativity is noticeable. Decades later, the master will create real masterpieces 5 stained glass windows in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Assy.
In 1891, the young man entered the Paris School of Fine Arts. His teacher was Julies-Elie Delaunay and later Gustave Morea. Moreau had a huge influence on the future style of the young author, he introduced him to modern art, showed that creativity can be free, not limited by frames and rules.
The beginning of the creative path
At the beginning of his creative career, Rouault painted a lot on a religious theme, but already in the first decade of the 20th century there were significantly fewer biblical motifs in his works, they were replaced by portraits of ordinary people, even “the dregs of society.” He painted the homeless, prostitutes, traveling circus performers. On his canvases there are dozens of images of clowns, which the artist identified with himself, believing that clowns are separated from ordinary people in the same way as a creative person is from everyone who is not subject to art.
Georges Rouault interacted with other artists, including Albert Marquet and Henri Matisse. Like them, the master at one time was ranked among the Fauvists for sharp contrasts and deep skill as a colorist, although his art could never be called “pure” Fauvism. In 1908, the artist married the pianist Marta le Sidaner. The marriage was successful, the couple lived together all their lives. They had three daughters and a son.
In 1910, his first solo exhibition was held, which featured about 200 works not only paintings, but also ceramics and household items. She was favorably received by the public, but in those days there were still few people buying from the master, and the family lived practically in poverty.
It was only in 1917 that the well-known collector Ambroise Vollard became interested in Rouault’s works. And he not only became interested, but offered to buy all the works from the workshop at once about 770 canvases. Most of them were not finished and Rouault added to them over the following years.
The artist treated each, even the smallest work, very responsibly, carefully writing out the smallest detail. He painted a lot and often not on an easel, but on a table, turning the pictures at different angles. One job could take 10 or 20 years. But how luxuriously the finished works look, shimmering with numerous layers of paint, appearing one under the other!
Georges Rouault created without limits, completely immersed in the process, “caring not about beauty, but about expressiveness,” as he himself put it. The artist died, being famous all over the world, on February 13, 1958.
The most famous paintings of Georges Rouault
“Clown” (1948) in this picture, as in other works of Rouault, the clown is full of tragedy, as if “laughter stuck in his throat,” as the author himself said;
- “Crucifixion” (1924) is a vivid example of the religious theme in the “stained glass” works of the artist;
- The Old King (1936) is the result of several decades of work. Just as the old ones show through under new layers of paint, so under the mask of a villain one can see his inner beauty;
- “Homo homini Lupus” (1948) a work under the loud title “Man is a wolf to man” was written shortly after the First World War, and presented to the world only after the Second. It contains all the horrors of wartime pain;
- “Sunset” (year unknown) is one of the many landscapes. A bright, defiant picture the scarlet sunset sky is reflected in the blood-red water and on the faces of people floating on a boat.
Creativity was everything for Georges Rouault, not just a way of expressing thoughts and feelings, but also life itself. Once he was asked if the master would continue to paint if he were on a desert island, and Georges did not hesitate to agree. His works are filled with strength, sincerity and deep meaning.