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    GEORGES HENRI ROUAULT (b.1871-1958)

    Pierrots Bleus au Bouquet


    Oil on Paper Mounted on Canvas
    51.8 × 42.9 cm

    Signed on the reverse: Pierrots au bouquet, Isabelle Rouault in French

    Estimate TWD 22,500,000-28,000,000
    USD 734,800-914,400
    HKD 0-0

    Hammer Price TWD 26,240,000
    USD 862,307
    HKD 6,797,927

With a certificate of authenticity from Georges Rouault Foundation, Paris, France




Exposition:With the original frame from 70 years ago

“Painting for me is merely a means of forgetting life. It is a cry in the night. A sob broken off. A strangled laugh.” – Georges Rouault

In 1871, a year when the city of Paris was bombarded by forces opposing the Paris Commune, Georges Rouault was born in the cellar of Belleville, a chaotic fringe of the city. His childhood was interlaced with crime, darkness, poverty and war, as though he was born to bear the cross for mankind. Rouault engaged the world with benevolence and empathy, hence the ubiquitous religious connotations in “the world of mercy” depicted in his paintings. At a time when there was no shortage of expressionism masters nor religious artists, Rouault was one of the few painters in France who was given a state funeral. He pioneered a new form of art which is so distinct that it is instantaneously recognizable. His works are often laden with profound meanings – a voice that speaks for the hardship and sufferings upon the world that can pierce the canvas. Any attempts to imitate would simply appear immature and pale by comparison.    

If one is to name three iconic French painters of the 1950s, Rouault, Matisse and Braque would be the rightful choice. Rouault’s work has been criticized for being awkward, bare and overly somber. That is simply because his works are the genuine embodiment of how he “painted for life.” He saw painting as a means of scrutinizing oneself through the most intrinsic style. Instead of creating an impeccable yet worthless facade, he would rather faithfully portray the social conditions in the most straightforward fashion. He entered École des Beaux-Arts at the age of 20, becoming the pupil of Gustave Moreau. Among his peers is Matisse, who charted the way for Fauvism. It was then Rouault started to shine, and his mission as an artist, which was inspired by Moreau, grew quietly. “You are a painter. Regardless of how the environment changes, you will remain a painter.” His famous Crucifixion was also influenced by Moreau. Rouault’s later paintings and prints have won international acclaim, claiming spots among the major public and private collections in the western world, including MoMA New York, Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.  

By early 1983, the religious and humanitarian sentiment was evident in Rouault’s paintings. With traces of despair, he depicted the bleak streets and marginalized members of the society with a dark overcast. Embedded within the intense melancholic blue are the dynamic red and yellow, signaling a storm of self-conflict brewing within. Rouault walked into the abyss unaccompanied, bravely embracing the pretense and vulgarity of the living world. His signature use of thick layers of paint took shape after 1927 while the clowns and religious figures remained the subject of his paintings. Casting vibrant red, yellow and blue within the solid black contour creates the relief effect like the stained-glass on the windows of Gothic churches in Europe. After 1930, Rouault gained international fame as his works were exhibited in Munich, London, Chicago, New York and other regions. Having gone through World War II, he turned more intently toward the orchestration of light, shape and colors. The series devoted to clowns during this period is deemed by most as a self-reflection of his fantastical inner-scape, a dedication of his own soul to touch the deepest and darkest corners of humanity where love and divine cannot reach. 

Pierrots au Bouquet was completed in 1946. The style and use of colors place this stunning piece during Rouault’s peak. The eyes of the extravagantly dressed clowns almost appear hallow. Their lifeless faces show no signs of emotion. While their clothes blend into the drab gray of columns and walls, a tall vase filled with ravishing flowers stands in the center, disproportionately large and bright as a cynical touch insinuating the luxurious and magnificent indulgence of the rich and powerful, which is completely detached from the working class blocked by the door. Against the melancholic overcast, the thick blotches of brightness pulsate comically as Rouault’s signature use of dark solid contours delineate the ambiguity and irony of life. Rouault never signed works that were not up to his satisfaction. He firmly believed that the value of art does not lie within the quantity or degree of detail. Rather, it is expressed through the passion and belief in the creation of art. In his mind, he never created perfection. Out of the shadows he tried so tirelessly to capture, we become witnesses to the gentle mercy he caressed over the canvas. Art, as a response to the longing for eternal dialogue between the souls, is a never-ending painting of life.  

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