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
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.
Theo Tobiasse, master of the Paris School, was born in Jaffa, Israel in 1927 of Lithuanian parents. His father, a Zionist, was a printer and in order to find work, he moved the family to Paris in 1931. Tobiasse has never forgotten his first sight of Paris, the City of Light. During the Nazi occupation of Paris, the Tobiasse family lived hidden for two years in a minuscule apartment in Paris. From July 1942 through August 1944, the family never ventured outside, nor would they turn on the lights or burn candles. Theo spent his time reading, drawing, and playing chess with his father. The chessboard pattern seen in many of Theo’s paintings is symbolic of this time in his life. He attributes his works to his real life experiences. He believes that because of these experiences, he has reached a place of perfect contentment and harmony. This is apparent in his works through the use of colors and textures.
After the war Tobiasse worked for 15 years as a very successful advertising artist, first in Paris and then in Nice. He painted as often as he could during this time, often at night. In 1960 he entered his first art show and won the Grand Prize. Since 1961, Tobiasse has enjoyed incredible worldwide success.
In 1976 he moved his studio to St. Paul-de-Vence where he rediscovered both the sky of Jerusalem and that of Florence. It was in Nice, the city he had adopted upon leaving Paris, that his pictorial expression came into its own. Initially profane and close to certain bestiaries, his subjects rapidly evolved towards reminiscences about his childhood: buses that he had caught sight of on his journey to France, boats with wheels, tea kettles, the warmth of the fireside, the trains when he arrived in Paris at dawn, the smokiness of railway stations, etc. All of these symbols were combined, with Biblical or erotic fantasies and also with the theme of exile, which had become his main interest over the previous few years. Often visible in his more recent work, the theme of exile took on a more dramatic dimension when it began to encompass not only past and present exiles, but the fear of exiles still to come. This background subject, currently his main preoccupation, is woven out of women, children, crowds, but also candelabra, which represent the glow of hope. Since 1980, Theo Tobiasse has travelled a great deal in the United States. Fascinated by New York, he decided to find a place where he could work for several months every year.
This allowed him to work more closely with his friends and dealers, Kenneth and Sherri Nahan. Many exhibitions and one-man shows have been held throughout the world, providing milestones for his work that is to be found in the catalogues of many International Museums. Theo Tobiasse has created monumental works such as the fountain entitled “L’Enfant Fou” for the Arenas Business Centre at Nice Airport, and stained-glass windows for various institutions in Strasbourg and Nice. He also designed costumes and state-set models for Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion”. He has filled many sketchbooks, some of which have been published, and created illustrated works for lovers of fine books, plus etchings and engravings. Theo Tobiasse also discovered a passion for ceramics, producing pottery and dishes, as well as a series of small bronze sculptures. Several monographs have been published on Theo Tobiasse’s work.
His works have been on exhibition throughout the western world and Japan. Tobiasse has also worked in etching, lithography and many more mediums. He is one of the rare artists who truly create original graphics making his own plates and closely supervising all aspects of the printing process.
A sentimental and private individual, Tobiasse puts his innermost feelings into all of his works and his little “secret” into his original paintings: a personal message which he writes in Yiddish and then glues onto the canvas before painting or collaging over it. No one will ever know the message without destroying the painting itself!
(text taken from http://www.elliottgallery.com)