Georges Rouault | The Complete Miserere

Artist’s Preface

I dedicate this work to my master, Gustave Moreau, and to my valiant and beloved mother who with unstinting patience watched over and aided my early efforts when I wandered at the crossroads, an ill-equipped young pilgrim of art. Let me add that both, in their own way, were endowed with the same smiling and encouraging nature, seldom found in these times of bitterness and offense in which we seem to live today.

Most of the subjects date from 1914-1918. They were originally drawn in Indian ink, and later, at Ambroise Vollard’s request, were transformed to copper plates. It was apparently desirable that a first impression on copper should be made. With these as a starting point, I have tried, taking infinite pains, to preserve the rhythm and quality of the original drawing. I worked unceasingly on each plate, with varying success, using many different tools. There is no secret about my methods. Dissatisfied, I reworked the plates again and again, sometimes making as many as twelve to fifteen successive states; for I wished them as far as possible to be equal in quality.

The engravings were printed under my careful supervision and were completed in 1927. Later Vollard had all the plates cancelled. After waiting twenty long years for their publication, which was postponed for different reasons, I was fortunate enough to recover the engravings in 1947, and entrusted their publication to the Etoile Filante, Paris.

It was planned that Andre Suares should write an accompanying text, unfortunately he was unable to do so.

The death of Vollard, the war, the Occupation and its consequences, and finally my lawsuit caused infinite delays. Though ever hopeful, there have been black moments when I despaired that these engravings, to which I have always attached a great significance, would ever be published. I rejoice that this has come to pass before I vanish from this planet.

If injustice has been shown toward Ambroise Vollard, let us remember that he had taste and a passion for making beautiful books, regardless of time; but it would have taken three centuries to have completed the works which he wanted, without considering our human limitations, to entrust to the artist. 

-George Rouault, Paris, 1948


The Series

There are 58 plates in the series, which fall into two sections: Miserere, the artist’s plea for divine compassion, and Guerre, his castigation of man’s ultimate folly. Originally engraved between 1918 and 1928, they were exhibited for the first time in 1948 by Etoile Filante in Paris in a limited edition of 450 copies.

The etchings of the Miserere represent a continuation of the style which the artist practiced before World War I, but with certain modifications. The theme focuses more on the sufferings of humanity rather than the horror of the world. The impulse is pity more than condemnation. The sufferings of Christ are interwoven with those of man, often in explicit juxtaposition. Rouault wrote out titles by hand so they could be reproduced under each plate.

The second half of the series, entitled Guerre, is more replete with horrors. In some designs the parallel between the sufferings of Christ and those of man is emphasized but in a slightly different way, as a journey by man through the dark night in which the final release is witnessed through the sacrifice of Christ.

The portfolio of unbound sheets was printed on wove paper showing the Ambroise Vollard watermark. The colophon page accompanying the set is signed and numbered but none of the individual images were signed separately.


Sheet size: 25 5/8 x 19 3/4 inches.

Medium: Mixed etching

Edition of 425 (+ 25 HC)

Publisher: Société d’Édition l’Étoile Filante, Paris 1948

Printer: Jacquemin, Paris


Please check back on Thursday, November 1st for the complete exhibition.

Arthur Luiz Piza | Selected Etchings

Piza was born in Sao Paulo, where he received his first training. He moved to Paris in 1955 and worked in the studio of the master of colour etching, Johnny Friedlaender. Piza soon became expert in all the techniques of etching and aquatint, using sugar-lift extensively, but he experimented in various ways to make his work more sculptural and three dimensional. He abandoned traditional etching techniques and, using very thick copper plates, he devised his unique "gouge" technique by incising his designs into his plates with hammers and various shaped chisels. The precision required is exact as his grooves need to be precisely deep and wide enough to hold his hand-made special inks. Because of the depths of the grooves, the direction of the wiping directly affects the final impression.

Each impression of his prints requires at least 30 minutes between colours in order for the plate to be re-inked and wiped, and he has to use cold plates in order for the inks not to dry out. The process of producing each impression is a time consuming and laborious process of collaboration between Piza and his printers. His work has met with great success and is shown in major public collections world-wide, including MOMA in New York, the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Musée d’Art Nationale (Centre Pompidou) in Paris. He has been awarded numerous prizes, notably for etching, at the 1959 Sao Paolo Biennale and at Documenta Kassel in 1959.

From 1958, Piza devoted himself primarily to burin engraving. Starting from this period, the artist created reliefs and collages, as well as sculpted objects, porcelain and jewellery. During the 1960’s, Arthur Luiz Piza became known as one of the most compelling representatives of the art of engraving. His style is very personal: the plate is cut, gashed, gouged, hammered, sculpted in small, successive marks that, like scales, interlock and overlap; hollows become volumes. The artist works with the perception of matter, matter that is imaginary and poeticised. Arthur Luiz Piza lived and worked in Paris for most of his life.

-courtesy of rogallery.com



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