Exhibitions


  • Georges Rouault, Crucifixion, 1937, Oil on canvas.

  • Georges Rouault, Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving-kindness, Designed 1912-18, 1922-27; published 1948, Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint over heliogravure.

  • Georges Rouault, in the old district of Long Suffering, Designed 1912-18, 1922-27; published 1948, Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint over heliogravure.

  • Georges Rouault, Love one another, Designed 1912-18, 1922-27; published 1948, Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint over heliogravure.

  • Georges Rouault, War, do detested by mothers., Designed 1912-18, 1922-27; published 1948, Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint over heliogravure.

  • Georges Rouault, “We…were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death.”, Designed 1912-18, 1922-27; published 1948, Aquatint, roulette, and drypoint over heliogravure.


This Anguished World of Shadows

Georges Rouault's Miserere et Guerre

March 30–May 28, 2006

MOBIA’s 2006 exhibition of French Expressionist Georges Rouault was a retrospective of this major artist’s work, providing the public with the chance to view all 58 prints in the magnificent Miserere series. It was the first time that the series was displayed in its totality, in New York City, in 40 years. This 35-years-long artistic endeavor spanned two World Wars while grappling with faith, the suffering of Christ, and human cruelty. The brutal, contemporary images of the series-which are, in part, a reaction to the almost unimaginable destruction in France during World War I -become even more poignant when one realizes that by the time they were published the artist had lived through World War II as well, and witnessed the almost total transformation of Europe and of French society. Their ultimate message is a testament to Rouault’s overriding belief in the redemptive power of suffering. Originally commissioned by Rouault’s dealer, Ambroise Vollard, the plates were created between 1914 and 1927. Miserere was not printed until 1948, when Rouault gained control of the images after a prolonged court battle with Vollard’s heirs. Of the 450 editions printed, only a limited number remain intact; the series to be shown at MOBIA comes to the Museum on loan from a generous collector.

Many art critics have regarded Georges Rouault as one of the most eminent Christian artists of the 20th century. More than appropriating Biblical iconography or illustrating Biblical themes, as artists have often done, Rouault’s art, including Miserere, arose directly out of his own religious convictions. Though he struggled for recognition well past middle-age, he came to be admired and revered in his own lifetime. His work has been widely collected and exhibited, with major museums acquiring Rouaults for their collections and a number of churches commissioning his oils, tapestries, and stained glass while he was living. A major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in 1945 hailed Rouault as “one of the few major figures in 20th century painting.” In presenting “This Anguished World of Shadows,” MOBIA also exhibited one painted study for Miserere alongside the series itself for the first time. Rouault’s well-known 1906 painting, Head of Christ, from the collection of the Chrysler Museum of Art, demonstrated how the artist threaded the motif of Christ’s suffering through his work. 

The 192-page color catalog for This Anguished World of Shadows features approximately 80 images, including 58 plates with short descriptions as well as biblical passages. The catalog, published jointly by MOBIA and D Giles Limited, London, includes contributions from MOBIA’s curatorial staff, an extensive bibliography, and an essay on Rouault’s printmaking techniques for the Miserere series. Art historian Soo Yun Kang, Associate Professor of Art History at Chicago State University, author of the most recent scholarly monograph on Rouault, the illuminating Rouault in Perspective (2000), contributes the main scholarly essay.


This Anguished World of Shadows:  Georges Rouault’s Miserere et Guerre is underwritten by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson. The Miserere series is on long-term loan to MOBIA from the collection of Robert and Sandra Bowden and will be traveled nationally.

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