Georges Henri Rouault was a French painter, draughtsman, and printer, whose work is often associated with Fauvism and Expressionism.
In 1907, Rouault commenced a series of paintings dedicated to courts, clowns and prostitutes. These paintings are interpreted as moral and social criticism. He became attracted to Spiritualism and the dramatic existentialism of the philosopher Jacques Maritain, who remained a close friend for the rest of his life. After that, he dedicated himself to religious subjects. Human nature was always the focus of his interest. Rouault said: "A tree against the sky possesses the same interest, the same character, the same expression as the figure of a human."
In 1910, Rouault had his first works exhibited in the Druet Gallery. His works were studied by German artists from Dresden, who later formed the nucleus of expressionism.
From 1917, Rouault dedicated himself to painting. The Christian faith informed his work in his search for inspiration and marks him out as perhaps the most passionate Christian artist of the 20th century: first of all, in the theme of the passion of Christ. The face of Jesus and the cries of the women at the feet of the cross are symbols of the pain of the world, which for Rouault was relieved by belief in resurrection.
In 1929 Rouault created the designs for Diaghilev's ballet The Prodigal Son, with music by Prokofiev and choreography by Balanchine.
In 1930 he also began to exhibit in foreign countries, mainly in London, New York and Chicago.
In 1937 Rouault painted "The Old King", arguably his very finest expressionist work.
He exhibited his cycle Miserere in 1948.
At the end of his life he burned 300 of his pictures (estimated to be worth today about more than half a billion francs). His reason for doing this was not profound, as he simply felt he would not live to finish them. Rouault died in Paris in 1958.