Georges Rouault 1871-1958
N04799 La Mariée (Têtes à Massacre) (The Bride (Aunt Sallys)) 1907
Inscribed '1907 | G. Rouault' b.r.
Oil on paper mounted on canvas, 29 1/2 x 41 1/2 (75 x 105.5)
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society 1935
Prov: Gustave Coquiot, Paris; with Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 1924; with Independent Gallery, London, 1925; CAS 1926
Exh: Salon d'Automne, Paris, October 1907 (1484) as 'La Mariée (fantoches)'; Oeuvres de Georges Rouault de 1897 à 1919, Galerie Druet, Paris, April-May 1924 (59); Internationale Kunst Ausstellung, Dresden, June-September 1926 (146, repr.); The CAS: Second Loan Exhibition of Foreign Paintings, M. Knoedler, London, February 1928 (1); Works by Georges Rouault, St George's Gallery, London, June-July 1930 (4); Silver Jubilee Exhibition of some of the Works acquired by the CAS, Tate Gallery, July-August 1935 (39); Braque and Rouault, Tate Gallery, April-May 1946 (70); Acquisitions of the CAS, Tate Gallery, September-October 1946 (61); CAS: The First Fifty Years 1910-60, Tate Gallery, April-May 1960 (161, repr. in colour); Rouault, Tate Gallery, October-November 1966 (26, repr.)
Lit: Pierre Courthion, Georges Rouault (London 1962), pp.379, 459, repr. p.143 as 'Pitch-Ball Puppets (Puppets or The Bride)'
Repr: Das Kunstblatt, X, 1926, p.283; Lionello Venturi, Georges Rouault (Paris 1948), pl.36, fig.43; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery (London 1958), p.143 in colour
This picture was known for many years as 'The Bride', but on seeing a photograph in August 1953 the artist said that he would like to change the title, as it seemed to him very misleading: the picture does not represent a real bride. He suggested instead 'Têtes à Massacre' (which can be translated as 'Aunt Sallys'). It was first exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1907 as 'The Bride (puppets)', so the most explicit English title would seem to be 'The Bride (Aunt Sallys)'. The preceding item in the Salon d'Automne was a picture entitled 'Accused and Judges (puppets)', which is almost certainly the painting reproduced in colour in Courthion, op. cit., p.87: the two pictures are the same size, very similar in colour, style and composition, and are both dated 1907. But whereas the present work shows a bride between her parents, the other depicts a prisoner between two judges.
The figures are life-size aunt sallys lined up in a row to be knocked down with wooden balls. In an earlier work on the same theme, a watercolour of 1905 reproduced by Courthion, p.117 as 'Pitch-Ball Puppets (The Wedding of Nini-patte-en-l'air)', one can see the greater part of a fairground booth with a row of similar puppet figures at the back (members of the wedding party) and an old woman in the foreground selling wooden balls. This watercolour was exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1905 as 'Forains, Cabotins, Pitres' (Travelling Showmen, Strolling Players, Clowns), and was probably the one shown the following year in the Sixth Exhibition (Second Section) of the International Society, London, as 'Forains, Pitres, Têtes à Massacre'.
Mlle Rouault pointed out that it was her father's custom to group certain of his works under a general title such as 'Suburb' or 'Circus', and then add a more distinctive one (letter of 6 September 1953).
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, pp.664-5, reproduced p.664