'Greatest Religious Work ..'
By IRIS CONLAY
USUALLY illustrations follow the text, but in what might have been the most important and the most beautiful books of our time (had they ever been produced), the positions were reversed. Rouault, in 1916, was asked to make a hundred huge illustrations for two books by Andre Suarez to be called "Miserere" and "Guerre". Suarez never wrote the texts but Rouault spent years on the theme and by 1927, when he finally gave it up, he had completed fifty-eight etchings on copperplate. 1 he book, as planned. will never appear, but Rouault's illustrations stand alone wordless—the greatest Jeligious work of this century.
These etchings are being shown again at the Redfern gallery. Nothing could he more appropriate than to see them now in Passiontide. They portray, with all the intensity and violence of the artist's imagination, the sufferings of Christ as reflecting exactly our own sufferings. This is a pilgrimage through the dark night of the soul. All the horrors that man can inflict upon himself are depicted in their extreme ugliness, hut implicit through everything is the promise of redemption, exaltation, prophetic passion.
Rouault's bold variations of the crucifixion theme have such strength and simplicity that they
throw into the shadows Grahani Sutherland's "Deposition" and "Christ on the Cross" and also Bryan Kneale's "Crucifixion in Forged Iron". Nevertheless it is interesting to see these works in the same setting with it modern master who, by comparison, has now the appearance of a very Old Master indeed. "Jesus will be in agony until the end of the world" — the Crucifixion that speaks particularls to our times. This is a lithograph made hs Georges Rouault, one of a series of fifty-eight plates engraved between 1916 and 1931 to illustrate Andre Soares' text 'Misere' and now exhibited al the
Redfern Gallery, London.