In the 1930s and 1940s, Rouault painted a substantial number of landscapes categorized as Paysage bibliques
and Paysage animés.
Created from his imagination rather than direct observation, these landscapes are notorious for the subtle placement of huddled groups of figures in rural settings. With an emphasis on pure color, these pictures demonstrate a serene atmospheric calm. The artist’s strong religious faith was the direct and overwhelming influence on these pictures. Rouault proclaimed: “I was like a peasant in the field, attached to my pictorial soil, like the man hanged by his own hemped rope, like an ox under the yoke. Through terribly restless, I never took my nose out of my work save to ascertain the light, the shadow, the half tint, the curious features of certain pilgrims’ faces. I noted forms, colors, and fleeting harmonies until I was sure they were so indelibly impressed in my memory that they would stay with me beyond the grave” (Georges Rouault, Soliloques,
Neuchâtel, 1944, n.p.).
With Rouault’s words in mind, Pierre Courthion’s astute comments about the artist’s technique are especially apt: “When we examine a Rouault, what strikes us first? Above all, the way the painted has been applied: very thickly and with passion, with great sureness, and with spontaneity… the thickly applied pigment achieves a hitherto unknown degree of energy; every form seems to flow directly from the artist’s hand into our own sensibility” (Pierre Courthion, op. cit., p. 234).