Artist biography

Georges Rouault 1871-1958

French painter, etcher, lithographer and illustrator. Born in Paris during the bombardment of the city by government troops. Son of a Breton cabinet-maker. Apprenticed to a stained-glass painter 1885-90 and helped to repair medieval stained glass; attended the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in the evenings. Entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1890 to study painting, studying 1891-5 under Gustave Moreau; Matisse and Marquet were among his fellow-students. After Moreau's death, was appointed curator of the Musée Gustave Moreau (opened 1903). His early paintings were influenced by Rembrandt and Moreau, but the influence of the Catholic novelist Leon Bloy from 1904 precipitated a religious crisis: paintings of prostitutes, clowns, judges, themes of sin and redemption. Exhibited at the Salon d'Automne with the Fauves in 1905; first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Druet, Paris, 1910. Commissioned by Vollard to make prints to illustrate several books c.1916-39, in particular etchings for Miserere et Guerre with a text by André Suarès. Paintings of religious subjects, the Passion, in brighter colours. Designed sets and costumes for Diaghilev's ballet The Prodigal Son 1929. Died in Paris.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.663