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

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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.

Georges Rouault : Plate 51. Loin du sourire de Reims. (Far from the smile of Rheims). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 51. Loin du sourire de Reims. (Far from the smile of Rheims).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 20 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches
Stock Number: 50620
Price: $1000.00

Georges Rouault : Plate 52. Dura lex sed lex. (The law is hard, but it is the law). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 52. Dura lex sed lex. (The law is hard, but it is the law).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 22 5/8 x 17 1/4 inches
Stock Number: 50621
SOLD

Georges Rouault : Plate 53. Vierge aux sept glaives. (Our lady of The Seven Sorrows). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 53. Vierge aux sept glaives. (Our lady of The Seven Sorrows).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 23 x 16 1/8 inches
Stock Number: 50622
Price: $1200.00

Georges Rouault : Plate 54. Debout les morts! (Arise, you dead!) at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 54. Debout les morts! (Arise, you dead!)

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 23 1/4 x 17 1/2 inches
Stock Number: 50623
SOLD

Georges Rouault : Plate 55. L’avuegle parfois a consolé le voyant. (Sometimes the blind have comforted those that see). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 55. L’avuegle parfois a consolé le voyant. (Sometimes the blind have comforted those that see).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 23 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches
Stock Number: 50624
SOLD

Georges Rouault : Plate 56. En ces temps noirs de jactance et d’incroyance, Notre-Dame de la Fin des Terres vigilante.. (In these dark times of vanity and unbelief, Our Lady of Land

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 56. En ces temps noirs de jactance et d’incroyance, Notre-Dame de la Fin des Terres vigilante.. (In these dark times of vanity and unbelief, Our Lady of Land's End keeps watch).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 23 1/4 x 17 1/4 inches
Stock Number: 50625
Price: $3200.00

Georges Rouault : Plate 57. Obéissant jusqu’á la mort et á la mort de la croix. (Obedient unto death and to death on the cross). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 57. Obéissant jusqu’á la mort et á la mort de la croix. (Obedient unto death and to death on the cross).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 22 7/8 x 16 5/8 inches
Stock Number: 50626
Price: $2200.00

Georges Rouault : Plate 58. C’est par ses meurtrissures que nous sommes guéris. (Is 53:5) (It is by his wounds that we are healed). at Davidson Galleries

Georges Rouault (1871 - 1958)

Plate 58. C’est par ses meurtrissures que nous sommes guéris. (Is 53:5) (It is by his wounds that we are healed).

Medium: Mixed etching
Edition : 208/425 (+ 25 HC)
Size: 22 3/4 x 18 5/8 inches
Stock Number: 50627
Price: $2000.00