Georges Henri Rouault (27 May 1871 – 13 February 1958) was a French painter, draughtsman, and printer, whose work is often associated with Fauvism and Expressionism.
In 1885, 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 colours, likened to leaded glass, which characterize Rouault’s mature painting style. During his apprenticeship, he also attended evening classes at the School of Fine Arts, and in 1891, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts, the official art school of France. There he studied under Gustave Moreau and became his favorite student. Rouault’s earliest works show a symbolism in the use of color that probably reflects Moreau’s influence.
Georges Rouault also met Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Henri Manguin, and Charles Camoin. These friendships brought him to the movement of Fauvism.
From 1895 on, he took part in major public exhibitions, notably the Salon d’Automne, where paintings with religious subjects, landscapes and still lifes were shown. In 1905 he exhibited his paintings at the Salon d’Automne with the other Fauvists. While Matisse represented the reflective and rationalized aspects in the group, Rouault embodied a more spontaneous and instinctive style. His use of stark contrasts and emotionality is credited to the influence of Vincent Van Gogh.. His characterizations of overemphasized grotesque personalities inspired the expressionist painters.
In 1907, Rouault commenced a series of paintings dedicated to courts, clowns and prostitutes. He became attracted to Spiritualism and the existentialism of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, who remained a close friend for the rest of his life. After that, he dedicated himself to religious subjects. Human nature was always the focus of his interest. In 1910, Rouault had his first works exhibited in the Druet Gallery.
From 1917, Rouault dedicated himself to painting. 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: first of all, in the theme of the passion of Christ.
In 1929 Rouault created the designs for Diaghilev’s ballet The Prodigal Son, with music by Prokofiev and choreography by Balanchine.
In 1937 Rouault painted “The Old King”, arguably his very finest expressionist work, and he exhibited his cycle Miserere in 1948.