French artist Georges Rouault was a pioneering expressionist painter and a major figure in modern printmaking.
Rouault’s work is immediately recognizable for the thick black brushstrokes that outline their subjects and the glass-like look of his colors. Indeed, this is unlikely to be mere coincidence; Rouault spent his teenage years as a stained glass maker’s apprentice. He used etching and aquatint to create works recognized widely as having unprecedented color harmonies and expressive power.
Rather than create pleasing “armchair” pictures like those of many of his contemporaries, Rouault applied his rough painterly style to religious subjects, clowns, and circus performers, using these motifs to reflect on religion, morality, and modern life. The theme of the circus was a major theme in Rouault’s work; he was fascinated by the contrast between the circus’ superficial brightness and the sadness of circus life. This portfolio reflected Rouault’s attempt to strip away the “spangles” of the clown’s costume and reveal the “reflection of paradise lost.”
This work, entitled Margot, is part of Rouault’s Divertissement series.
Examples of this print can be found at the Museum of Modern Art and numerous other prominent institutions.