Femininity according to Georges Rouault - La Gazette Drouot

Georges ROUAULT 1871-1958
Georges ROUAULT 1871-1958
AGLAË, circa 1940

Their names are Aglaé and Anouchka. They belong to the many female portraits that Georges Rouault produced, from the prostitutes of his early years, whom he invited to warm up in his studio, to the models with beautiful Christian names at the end of his career.

The first named is thus associated with his mature works of the 1940s. Although the artist painted it during the war, in a period of forced exile - the Rouaults had abandoned their Paris studio in the rue Martignac to take refuge in their country house in Beaumont-sur-Sarthe, then in Golfe-Juan in June 1940 - he continued a creative process that had begun a decade earlier, that of greater financial security and a more serene life. Colours blossomed in each of his compositions, which tended to be more decorative. Still lifes, landscapes, religious scenes or nudes : beauty was now glorified, as was femininity. In his portraits, Rouault gives us softened lines, tender faces and vibrant luminosity. If the broad black outlines - reminiscent of the Fauvist years - are still present, they no longer obscure these compositions in which the superimposition of colours creates modelling and depth. Setting up his canvas not on an easel, but flat on a table, he worked more than ever on the thickness and expressiveness of the material. Rouault also favoured oil painting at this time, a technique more conducive to lightening his palette, as shown here by the beautiful harmony of blues, contrasting with the red of a flower nonchalantly held to the ear and the yellow of the garment. According to the painter's descendants, this painting was part of a set made for tapestries produced in Aubusson, although no trace of a lissière creation based on this painting is known. Dated around 1940 and reproduced in the catalogue Rouault, l'œuvre peint (vol. 3, no. OP2742), Aglaé was exhibited for over fifty years - from "Georges Rouault visionnaire" in 1971 at the Beyeler Gallery in Basel, to "Georges Rouault, peintre de l'esprit" at the Villa Théo in Le Lavandou in 2023. Until now, it has remained in the artist's family collection, along with the two other female portraits that will accompany it to Cannes.

Also referenced, Anouchka, an ink and pastel on paper laid down on canvas (50 x 32 cm), could be dated to around 1929-1930 with its black lines still marked ; advertised at €50,000/80,000, it has an astonishing frame painted by the artist. The Fille au grand chapeau (35 x 25 cm) - a gouache on an engraving background estimated at €30,000/40,000 and featured on the poster for the exhibition "Rouault au pays du père Ubu" at the Musée de l'Annonciade in Saint-Tropez in 2023 - takes us back a few years. It was intended for the new edition of Alfred Jarry's Réincarnations du Père Ubu, commissioned and published by Ambroise Vollard. Although the work appeared in 1932, Rouault had been working on it since 1916. He devoted many years to this work on engraving, creating monumental figures with structured and simplified forms, architectural and powerful designs : hieratic women, both modern and inspired by sacred art...

Caroline LEGRAND

August Tuesday 15th, Cannes - Cannes Besch Auction OVV.

LA GAZETTE DROUOT N° 29 OF JULY 21st, 2023, pages 32-33

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