Georges Rouault began his artistic training in his early teens, as an apprentice to a stained glass artisan. He then enrolled in courses at the Ecole National des Arts Décoratifs before entering the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he began his friendship with Gustave Moreau. Though Moreau had a great effect on Rouault as a teacher and mentor, throughout his life Rouault continued to be influenced by Old Masters such as Goya, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Around the turn of the century, Rouault began working with new techniques and concepts in his art. He was a co-founder and participant in the first Salon d’Automne in 1903, along with Matisse and other artists who would later be called Fauves.
For a short time, Rouault was fascinated with the life of the country and painted and drew serene landscapes, often animated with busy figures. Later, he was inspired by topics of sin and salvation as he evaluated the baseness of mankind in his paintings of prostitutes, judges, and tribunals. During the same period, he painted various social scenes and religious subjects.
In 1916, Rouault undertook the illustration of a number of books at the advice of his dealer, Ambroise Vollard. For the next twenty years, he devoted himself nearly entirely to printmaking. Out of this period came a masterful album of etchings and aquatints entitled, “Miserere.” He resumed painting in 1927 and had a large exhibition at the Petit Palais in 1937. For the remainder of his life he concentrated on religious and social themes in his painting. Alongside painting and printmaking, Rouault produced ceramics, designed settings for Diaghilev’s productions of “Le Fils Prodigue,” executed tapestries for Madame Cuttoli, and designed stained-glass windows for the church of Assy.