The Early Years 1871-1902
Born during the bombings of the ‘Commune de Paris’, Georges Rouault spends his early childhood in the old, working class neighbourhood of Belleville.

Son of a cabinet maker, who varnished pianos for Pleyel, he learns to love beautiful materials. At the age of 14, he leaves home to become an apprentice for a stained glass artist.  Introduced early to the works of Courbet, Manet, Forain and Daumier by his maternal grandfather, he develops, little by little, a passion for painting which leads him to consecrate his life to it. Initial lessons at the school of Decorative Art (l’Ecole des Arts Décoratifs) are followed by those at the school of Fine Art (l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts) in 1890 when the young man abandons his apprenticeship.

“Art for you is serious, sober and, in its essence, religious. Everything you do will bear this stamp.”
Gustave Moreau, quoted by Georges Rouault in ‘Souvenirs Intimes’

The Ecole des Beaux-Arts is the site of a meeting which is to be a determining factor for his future. One year after arriving at the school he becomes a pupil of Gustave Moreau. This exceptional teacher, who pushed his students to reveal themselves to themselves, will forge a privileged relationship with Georges Rouault. Even to the point where the young painter will, after the death of his master, be named as the curator of his private mansion, left to the State and transformed into a museum. Gustave Moreau understands this pupil particularly well and advises, comforts and guides him.

Georges Rouault's parents

At l'Ecole des beaux arts

Portrait of Gustave Moreau
by Georges Rouault