Georges Rouault: Miserere et Guerre

Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 58 (1922) 

No. 58, "C'est par ses meurtrissures que nous

sommes guéris." ("And with his stripes we are healed.")
Isaiah 53:5
, 1922. Image © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 55 (c.1927) 

No. 55, L'aveugle parfois a consolé le voyant.
(Sometimes the blind have comforted those
that see.),
c. 1927. Image © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS),
New York / ADAGP, Paris.
Georges Rouault: Miserere et Guerre logo MOCRA periodically offers the rare opportunity to see all 58 works in this landmark in the history of printmaking and twentieth-century art.

Georges Rouault - Miserere et Guerre, installed at MOCRA
Here faith, love, and charity, vanity and cruelty, hypocrisy and pharisaism, life and death, are synthesized . . . This work is striking, even frightening. Every element in it has greatness. In the Miserere, in this ensemble of aggressive, sparse, grandiose compositions, Rouault has perhaps expressed himself most completely. -- Georges Chabot

    January 26 - May 8, 2016

    Previous showings:
    March 2 - May 11, 2003
    January 18 - April 2, 2000
    March 21 - April 26, 1994
    March 8 - July 31, 2011

General Exhibition Information
Hours:  Tues - Sun, 11 am - 4 pm

Admission:  free, with suggested donation of $5/adults, $1/students and children

Directions and parking information

Group visit information

Rouault - Miserere et Guerre info sheet thumbnail Download an informational brochure with sample images.


Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 36 (1927) 

No. 36, Ce sera la dernière, petit père! (This
will be the last time, father!), 1927. Image © 2011
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 42 (1927) 

No. 42, Bella matribus detestata. ("Wars, dread
of mothers.
") Horace, Odes, I, 1, 24/5, 1927. Image © 2011
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

About the artist
Georges Rouault is a distinctive figure in twentieth-century art. Born in working-class Paris in 1871, Rouault was apprenticed as a youth to a stained glass workshop. In late 1890, he enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts, where he became the favorite pupil of Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. Rouault became involved with the Fauves (among them his classmate Henri Matisse) and began participating in major exhibitions, notably the Salon d'Automne of 1905. Rouault developed his own, primarily Expressionist, style, influenced by his strong affinity for the medieval period. Yet he remained outside of the group movements that dominated the twentieth century, developing a focused, persistent artistic vision expressed in a variety of media. In addition to paintings, drawings, and prints, he also executed ceramics and designs for tapestry and stained glass, as well as the set for Diaghilev's ballet 1929 ballet The Prodigal Son. Rouault came to be highly regarded in France and internationally, and was the first artist to be given a state funeral by the French government upon his death in 1958.

"Aggressive, sparse, grandiose" . . . and eloquent
The prints were originally commissioned by Rouault's powerful Parisian art dealer, Ambroise Vollard. The project was conceived as two volumes, titled Miserere and Guerre, to be made up of 100 large etchings accompanied by text by poet André Suarès. Rouault developed the majority of the images between 1914 and 1918-the years of World War I. His initial ink and gouache sketches were transferred to copper plates. Under Vollard's strenuous demands, Rouault reworked the plates continuously between 1922 and 1927. Ultimately, the books never materialized, but 58 images were printed in an edition of 450 in 1927. Vollard later had the plates canceled so that no further prints could be made. However, due to Vollard's untimely death in 1939 and Rouault's legal struggles with Vollard's heirs, the etchings were not published until 1948. Given the title Miserere, they were recognized as a milestone in expanding the technical and expressive range of the print.

Perhaps more than anything, Rouault's devout Roman Catholic faith was the guiding if unstated principle of his art, leading to his persistent concern with the twin themes of humanity's frailty and redemption. Rouault himself said, "All of my work is religious for those who know how to look at it," and Miserere et Guerre is in many senses a comprehensive expression of Rouault's religious vision. In the series Rouault addresses many of the themes that prevail throughout his work: brutality; degradation; hatred; injustice and judicial corruption; loneliness; poverty and hunger; the destructiveness of war; and-counterbalancing it all-compassion.

Art critic John Canaday describes Rouault as "one of the great printmakers of the age," and the Miserere prints as "landmarks in the development of print techniques." Born out of the unprecedented violence of the First World War and Rouault's intense compassion for the marginalized and underprivileged, Miserere et Guerre continues to speak forcefully and poignantly in our present times, and can be appreciated for its technical achievement, stark beauty, human insight, and spiritual integrity. 

There are only a few complete sets of Miserere et Guerre in American collections, and it is rare to have the opportunity to see the series in its entirety. MOCRA is pleased to invite audiences to experience this major body of work by one of the twentieth century's master artists.

MOCRA is grateful to the Jesuit Community at Saint Louis University for its assistance in rematting and reframing the Miserere etchings.

Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 47 (1927) 

No. 47, "De profundis ..." ("Out of the depths ...") Psalm 130:1, 1927.
Image © 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Georges Rouault, Miserere et Guerre No. 32 (1927) 

No. 32, Seigneur, c'est vous, je vous reconnais.
(Lord, it is you, I know you.), 1927. Image © 2011
Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.


More information

Watch a MOCRA Voices presentation on Rouault by MOCRA Director Rev. Terrence Dempsey, S.J.:


The Rouault Foundation (includes biographical information)

information on Miserere et Guerre

Miserere et Guerre at the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University

Rouault works at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Artcyclopedia list of Rouault works in museum holdings

Miserere et Guerre in the media - 2011 showing

Miserere et Guerre in the media - 2003 showing

Miserere et Guerre in the media - 2000 showing

Miserere et Guerre in the media - 1994 showing

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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