Powerful yet also profoundly meditative, La Sainte Face depicts the head of Christ in seeming isolation from the world around him. Georges Rouault was a deeply religious figure whose art intimately reflected his beliefs and devotion. James Thrall Soby notes that: ‘to Rouault, [religion] was… to become the sum - or very nearly the sum - of personal experience and emotion’ (quoted in Georges Rouault Paintings and Prints (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1947, p. 9). Having originally trained as an apprentice in a stained glass workshop, Rouault’s distinctive style owed much to his life-long fascination with this medium, with the bold black lines used to delineate form within his paintings referencing in particular his interest in medieval glass. The present work was a particular favourite of Lord and Lady Attenborough’s, and was displayed in a prominent setting above their fireplace in the drawing room of their home, Old Friars.
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