about 1937–38
Georges Rouault (French, 1871–1958)


118.1 x 89.5cm (46 1/2 x 35 1/4in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

Not On View





Rouault first came to prominence in 1905, when he displayed works at the exhibition that gave birth to the name Fauvism, a movement with which he shared an attraction to strong bold forms and striking color. Driven by deep religious convictions, Rouault was fascinated by those on the margins of society, and his works are filled with depictions of clowns, prostitutes, and, as here, theatrical characters. His highly personal technique, in which glowing colors are outlined with thick black was almost certainly inspired by his early apprenticeship to a painter of stained glass.


G. Rouault


About 1937/1938, sold by the artist to Ambroise Vollard (b. 1867 - d. 1939), Paris [see note 1]; 1939, by inheritance to Chrétien de Galea, and her son, Robert de Galea, Paris [see note 2]. By 1953, Nathan Cummings (b. 1896 - d. 1985), New York; by descent to his daughter, Mrs. Robert B. Mayer, and her son and daughter, Robert N. Mayer and Ruth M. Durchslag, Chicago; 1983, sold by the Mayers to Consolidated Foods Corporation (Sara Lee Corporation), Chicago [see note 3]; 2000, gift of the Sara Lee Corporation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 21, 2000)

[1] Richard R. Bretell, "Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation" (New Haven and London, 1999), cat. no. 44, p. 170.

[2] Vollard's estate was divided between his brother, Lucien, and his friend, Mme. de Galea. Her son and heir, Robert, kept their collection of paintings in his private villa near Paris until World War II. See James J. Rorimer, "Survival: The Salvage and Protection of Art in War" (New York, 1950), pp. 68, 85-86. The City of Paris, to which Vollard had bequeathed four paintings for the Petit Palais, claimed it had some rights to the rest of the collection as well, and brought action against the Vollard estate. In 1949, the French Courts decided in favor of the Vollard heirs, ensuring that Galea was the legal owner of the pictures in his possession. See Lynn H. Nicholas, "The Rape of Europa" (New York, 1994), pp. 92-93, 304-05, and 425 on the problem of the Vollard estate and "Paintings from the Vollard Collection" (exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1950), p. 4 on the outcome of the legal dispute. Also see Maryline Assante di Panzillo, "The Dispersal of the Vollard Collection," in Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde, ed. Rebecca A. Rabinow (exh. cat. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2006), pp. 259-262.

[3] Consolidated Foods Corporation, founded by Nathan Cummings, changed its name to the Sara Lee Corporation in 1985.

Credit Line

Gift of the Sara Lee Corporation


© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.