Mary A. Boyd

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Bisanz, Rudolf M.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Art


Rouault; Georges; 1871-1958; Painters--France--Biography


The early art of Georges Rouault, 1871-1958, uniquely embodies a fusion of influences from the Parisian life of the Third Republic of France. Through his art of religious and expressionistic character, Rouault attempted to change aspects of his society. Rouault saw greed and injustice rampant in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Paris. Rouault demonstrated through his personal symbols (icons) that the lowly and unselfish people were true heroes, not the shallow bourgeois, immoral judges or the hypocritical intellectuals. Of all the artists born in the last half of the nineteenth century, Rouault was perhaps least determined by contemporary trends, yet Rouault was touched by them. He affirmed the autonomy of aesthetics, but he believed religious meaning should transcend the material elements. Certain shaping forces of Rouault's art can be identified. First among these were his familial and Catholic social Democrat roots. From his father and maternal grandfather came a deep love for art, for good literature of the liberal persuasion, and for the honest breadwinner struggling against great odds. Various mentors nurtured Rouault's personal spirit and aesthetic genius. Gustave Moreau fostered the young artist's personal temperament and encouraged fidelity to Rouault's unique vision. Joris-Karl Huysmans' promotion of selfless art, his provision of a supportive community at a turning point in Rouault's life, and biographic novels affected the maturing Rouault. Leon Bloy likewise influenced Rouault through his writings, as well as his friendship. Ironies evident in several of Rouault's artistic productions have affinities with contrasts drawn by Bloy in his novels. The burning vision of this religious zealot seared the soul and reinforced the singlemindedness of Rouault. A quieter but more pervasive influence on Rouault was Blaise Pascal, whose Pensees were virtually daily fare of the meditative Rouault. The spiritual discipline and devotion to Jesus Christ modeled by Pascal proved a constant support for the latter-day French artist. As a Religious Expressionist, Rouault shaped these resources into a unique fusion of content and form. Whether or not Rouault succeeded in his venture to share the Gospel and change society, today's student cannot but be impressed by the quality of the art works Rouault produced, creative expressions that reflect the reciprocal influences between society and art.


Bibliography: pages [71]-75


vii, 103 pages




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