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Georges Rouault (1871-1958)
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Georges Rouault (1871-1958)

Le tribunal de province

Details
Georges Rouault (1871-1958)
Le tribunal de province
signed 'G Rouault' (lower right); signed again 'G Rouault' (on the reverse) and inscribed 'Tribune de Province' (on the stretcher)
oil on paper laid down on canvas
25 5/8 x 40 1/4 in. (65.1 x 102.2 cm.)
Painted in 1938
Provenance
Sam Salz, Inc., New York.
Edward G. Robinson, Los Angeles, by 1953.
Acquired by the present owner, circa 1995.
Literature
B. Dorival & I. Rouault, Rouault, L'œuvre peint, vol. II, Monte Carlo, 1988, no. 1809, p. 141 (illustrated; with inverted dimensions).
Exhibited
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Forty Paintings from the Edward G. Robinson Collection, March - April 1953, no. 29; this exhibition later travelled to Washington D.C., The National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institute, May - June 1953.
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot. This indicates both in cases where Christie's holds the financial interest on its own, and in cases where Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold successfully and may incur a loss if the sale is not successful.
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
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Antoine Lebouteiller
Antoine Lebouteiller

Lot Essay

A rare and important work, formerly in the collection of the Hollywood actor Edward G. Robinson Le tribunal de province was painted at the pinnacle of Rouault’s career in the late 1930s. Having studied under the tutelage of Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs beginning in 1890, it was not however until 1937 that the artist’s public reputation grew, when forty-two paintings were shown as part of the large Exposition des Artistes Indépendents, staged in connection with the Paris Exposition Universelle.

During this time Rouault created only a handful of his “judgement” paintings, including Le tribunal de province, which remain the most
sophisticated and complex works of the artist’s career, and encapsulate incredibly poignant themes. These were fostered by Rouault’s reading of the novel La femme pauvre by the fervent Roman Catholic author Léon Bloy. Bloy’s preaching of spiritual revival through poverty and suffering, along with themes such as that of the judge and the condemned man, burned a lasting impression in the artist’s memory.

Given firsthand access to the court by the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Rouault was taken aback by the arbitrary nature by which judgements were made. He put himself in the place of the defendant, lawyer and judge, and gave them all the same red, bloated faces. 'No other painter of his time pored over these blemishes on the face of society.
None used drawing and colour as he did to reveal to us, without acrimony, our unfathomable existence' (in P. Courthion, Georges Rouault, New York, 1977, p. 16).

In his depiction of Le tribunal de Province, we see the imposing form of the judge, flanked by his two assessors, prevailing over the court from behind his desk. 'If I made such lamentable figures of the judges, it was because I no doubt revealed the anguish I felt at the sight of a human being who has to judge other men. If it so happened that I confused the head of the judge with that of the prisoner, this error merely betrayed my own confusion...I cannot condemn the judges themselves' (quoted in B. Dorival & I. Rouault, Rouault: L’oeuvre peint, vol. I, Monte-Carlo, 1988, p. 74).



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