Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts partnered with the Nasher Museum of Art and Duke Chapel to host an exhibition of Miserere et Guerre, a series of 58 intaglio prints by French artist Georges Rouault (1871–1958). From March 5 through April 6, during the Lenten season, Duke Chapel displayed images from the series that unmask human duplicity and self-deception through the lens of Christ’s passion and suffering. The Nasher’s tandem installation, on display from March 18 through July 23, highlights scenes that illustrate the plight of refugees and the devastations of war.
The exhibition opened with a special Vespers service on Thursday, March 9, featuring a choral concert of Allegri’s “Miserere” at Duke Chapel. Events also included two talks at the Nasher Museum of Art. On March 23, Philippe Rouault, great-grandson of the artist, and exhibition owner Sandra Bowden gave brief lectures on Rouault’s life and work. On Thursday, March 30, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology at Yale Divinity School, gave a talk in the Nasher Museum lecture hall on “Social Protest Art and the work of Georges Rouault.” View images from these events here.
About the Series
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 worked on the project from 1913-1927, though it was not published until 1948. The prints present a persistent concern for the poor and marginalized, searing criticism of the ruling class and unapologetic religious devotion.
The Miserere is often considered the greatest achievement of one of the 20th century’s most respected artists. Rouault was the first artist to be given a state funeral by the French government.