Georges Rouault
(Paris, 1871-1958, Paris)
Clown, ca. 1937
Oil on cardboard, 34 x 50 cm
Signed lower right: G. Rouault
Dorival 1994
The clown looks upon the doings of humanity with sorrow; as if from a window, he looks down upon it and is entranced by his pain at seeing all these lost souls. "The clown ?... but that’s me ... that’s you ... almost all of us", said Rouault. And here in this picture we can recognize quite clearly the features of the artist, the arched brow, the deep-set eyes and the protruding mouth with the long upper lip: Rouault as a person outside society, man in his solitude, obsessed with God, whose laughter freezes into mourning. The vision of the clown is built up out of vigorous brush-strokes, the clown in the pink brocade tinsel of his garb against the saturated turquoise of the background, constricted by the black contours. The painting is not dated, but merely the features of the old clown, in which we have recognized the artist, indicate that it is a later work.