Georges Rouault
(Paris, 1871-1958, Paris)
The Couple (La Loge), 1905
Gouache on paper on panel, 96.5 x 79.5 cm
Signed & dated upper right: G. Rouault 1905
Dorival 305
The business in which the self-satisfied cavalier of this "Couple" has made his money, in order to camouflage with evening dress and silk hat his body bloated with gluttony, is a shady one. His brutishness is only imperfectly concealed behind the dress-shirt. Vice has destroyed the human countenance of the kept woman next to him and converted it into a larva, a hideous mask, which the soulless puppet bumptiously displays to the public. There is no avoiding this indictment of a perverted, godless world, for we are brought into frightening proximity with it; it forces itself upon us in its distended plumpness, and the small background figures – a motif often applied by Rouault – only reinforce the blatancy of the disgusting couple. Only in the blue and pink of this gouache does the Expressionist Rouault pay tribute to his country. Nevertheless, he met with unanimous rejection when these pictures were first shown at the Salons d’Automne of 1904 and 1905, not least from his friend Léon Bloy, whose "The Poor Woman" had basically inspired these paintings. The shock was too strong.