The Virgin of the Seven Swords

Rouault was born in 1871 and witnessed the tragedies of World War I. Inspired by the suffering of fellow human beings and his devout Catholicism, Rouault used his art to express the social turmoil and spiritual corruption he observed.

From the Misery volume of the series entitled Miserere et Guerre, or Misery and War, this print depicts the anguish and suffering of the Virgin Mary, with the seven swords of the title representing the seven sorrows of Mary. Widely considered to be his masterpiece, Miserere et Guerre is comprised of 58 prints.

Rouault was known as a Fauvist and later as an Expressionist painter. He was skilled in paint, printmaking, lithography, and etching. Most of his influence came from historical medieval artwork and his mentor Gustave Moreau, who he studied under at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1891 – 1898. Georges is known for his use of bold colors and strong moral beliefs that come through in his work. Here, he has a female figure’s profile displayed with her gaze upward. Her features are defined by the dense black lines shaping her contours, while the surface area of her skin is slightly gestural with a light wash of tonal value. Rouault’s work reflects humans with all of their perceived flaws and as he expressed, “As men without masks.”

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