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Georges Rouault

1871 - 1958

Clown et Enfant by Georges Rouault
 

Clown et Enfant   1930

  Original aquatint printed in colours.
Inscribed in pencil by the artist.
Ref: Rouault 201; Wofsy 206, trial proof.
S 444 x 335 mm; P & I 312 x 212 mm
£3,200
 
Unique trial proof impression printed in pure colours, without black, prior to the normal edition. An exquisite impression with fresh yet beautifully restrained colours, prepared by Georges Rouault himself and inscribed by the artist in pencil.

The circus was the inspiration for many of Georges Rouault’s most famous compositions and certainly for his finest colour aquatint. One of the earliest and most powerful Expressionists, Georges Rouault was concerned primarily with expressing suffering and his own profoundly moral vision through a stylistically independent form of art. In designing his images of the circus and its performers he aimed to express a parody of the real world, describing both the impressive outward appearance of the characters and their inner, emotive personalities. In this respect, it is believed that Georges Rouault saw himself symbolised by the clown, depicted in this image, with an outward appearance which masked an entirely different inner reality.

This colour aquatint was designed for André Suarès’ unpublished work Cirque. Georges Rouault prepared eight colour aquatints and seventy small wood engravings for this work, due to be published by Ambroise Vollard in 1932. Unfortunately, Vollard did not read Suarès’ manuscript prior to going to press and only discovered during the printing of the text that the author’s caricatures might affront his “clientèle americaine”. Despite various attempts to revive the publication, the work never appeared and Georges Rouault sought Suarès’ permission to use his wood engravings for a substitute work of his own. The eight magnificent colour aquatints which Georges Rouault had produced never appeared as book illustrations. The only published edition of these aquatints was printed by Maurice Potin in a separate edition of 270 impressions.

This superb trial proof impression was prepared by the artist himself in pure colours. It displays both Georges Rouault’s outstanding gift as a colourist and his painterly ability with sugar-lift aquatint at their finest. In the normal published edition, a black outline plate was added and the colours were subdued. Although this black outline added definition for the general public, it lost the beautiful painterly effect of Georges Rouault’s work in pure colour. Almost all of Georges Rouault’s great early Expressionist work was created in watercolour and it is the effect of a watercolour painting which the artist has captured to perfection in this pure colour proof of Clown et Enfant. Inscribed by the artist “Etat U”, this magnificent proof shows the image fully developed through rich, subtle and luminous colours. Unlike impressions from the normal edition, in which the colours will have been applied to the plate by the printer, Maurice Potin; the colours in this proof will have been painted by hand upon the plate, or applied à la poupée, by Georges Rouault himself.

On warm cream laid paper with full margins and deckle edge. Extreme outer edges of sheet time toned, otherwise very good original condition. Image surface excellent.