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  • Georges Rouault
  • Georges Rouault

Religion and Neo-Medievalism

Aug. 18 – Dec. 23, 2016


Arguably one of the greatest religious artists of the twentieth-century, Georges Rouault (1871-1958) helped revive the relevance of Christianity in post-WWI France. As a young man Rouault served as an apprentice restorer of stained-glass at Saint-Séverin, a gothic church in the heart of Paris. He went on to study with Gustave Moreau, known for his illustrations of biblical and mythological figures. Under Moreau’s tutelage, Rouault learned to harness the power of spiritual symbols in his own artwork.

Rouault’s Miserere (Mercy) series, first titled Miserere et Guerre (Mercy and War), was commissioned in 1916 by art dealer Ambroise Vollard (1865-1939). Originally planned as a two-volume book comprised of fifty prints each, Miserere was only partially realized—with fifty-eight prints published in 1948. The series illustrates man’s cruelty to man, relates human suffering to the passion of Christ, and speaks to the redemption and salvation that can be achieved through that experience.

This exhibition focuses on a small selection of prints that convey Rouault’s interest in the medieval past. In Miserere, Rouault makes recurring use of sacramental symbols and devotional imagery originating in the Middle Ages. By fusing early Catholic spiritual truths with his own experiences in twentieth-century France, Rouault creates uniquely modern religious narratives.

This exhibition is the result of an internship and research project by Abby Rose Armstrong, M.A. candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Support for this exhibition and accompanying programs is provided by the Frederick A. and Mary Ellen Muth Program Endowment, Friends of the Haggerty Museum of Art, and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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