Georges Rouault
(Paris, 1871-1958, Paris)
Riders in the Twilight, ca. 1920
Oil on paper on canvas, 71 x 107 cm
Dorival 878
Rouault was born in a night of bombing during the Paris Commune of 1871, in the cellar of a slum district, the son of an artisan; for him there was no landscape in the Impressionist sense. His figures come from the extremes of life: saints and lost souls, and his landscapes, too, are either dreamlike Biblical visions or harsh, desolate urban scenes. "Riders in the Twilight" is one of these visions that loom before the inner eye and defy precise interpretation. Before the darkly luminous blue of the landscape with the deep turquoise of the mountains appears the ruddy naked rider, the flesh tints being heightened to an almost relief-like effect in the bluish-pink shades of the white horse. The broad black contours intensify the sacral colour effect. In the exhibition of the incomplete works in the Louvre in 1964, there was shown, under No. 146, a later landscape, "Biblical, mounted, sunset", which resumes this theme without throwing further light on it. In the Catalogue, Bernard Dorival states that the painting in its original state – on loan from Vollard – was exhibited in 1925 in the show "Gustave Moreau et ses élèves" at the Galerie Georges Petit. Perhaps this reinforces the assumption that Rouault painted the picture as an "Hommage à Moreau".