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Incubator Gallery

Miserere et Guerre

March 18 – July 23, 2017
Installation view of Georges Rouault prints from the Miserere series, 1927. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.
Dark scene of burning village with figures prone in the foreground.
Georges Rouault, My sweet country, where are you?, from the Miserere series, 1927. Aquatint on paper, 16 1⁄2 x 23 3⁄8 inches (41.9 x 59.4 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum. Gift of Romona Morgan. © Fondation Georges Rouault / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

The Nasher Museum presented Miserere et Guerre, as part of  The Collection Galleries. The Nasher Museum, Duke Chapel and Duke Divinity School collaborated on the exhibition, which consisted of a series of 58 intaglio prints by French artist Georges Rouault (1871–1958). Originally conceived as a two-volume set, the series depicts the political turmoil, human devastation, spiritual desolation and deep longing felt in Europe during World War I and leading up to World War II. The title Miserere (“Have mercy” in Latin) refers to the opening of Psalm 51: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness…” while guerre means “war” in French. Rouault began the project in 1912, though it was not completed until 1948. The prints present a persistent concern for the poor and marginalized, searing criticism of the ruling class and unapologetic religious devotion.

Concurrent with the Nasher Museum installation, Duke Chapel presented images from the series that focus on the belief that salvation comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of humankind. The Nasher’s tandem installation highlighted scenes that illustrate the plight of refugees and the devastations of war.

Exhibition-related events included a special Vespers service featuring a choral concert of Allegri’s “Miserere” at Duke Chapel and two talks at the Nasher Museum. Collector Sandra Bowden and Philippe Rouault, great-grandson of the artist, gave a gallery talk on Rouault’s work. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School, gave a talk entitled, “Social Protest Art and the Work of Georges Rouault.”

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