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The Cover
June 18, 2003

Nous devons mourir, nous et tout ce qui est nôtre

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(23):3052. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3052

He was the artist of the wounded and of the afflicted; his images of humanity showed the rejected, the outcast, the sorrowing, and the suffering. He saw himself as one of them, not because of any particular event in his life, but simply because as a man he shared their humanity. A self-portrait from his mid 50s, for example, shows him as a sorrowing apprentice, condemned to unremitting labor and toil. He turned conventional notions of beauty upside down and he in his turn was denounced for purveying "ugliness": the French philosopher Leon Bloy accused him of painting only the ugly. But the French painter and printmaker Georges Rouault (1871-1958) was not deterred. His choice of such unlikely subjects as acrobats, clowns, judges, prostitutes, the accused, the condemned, and the fugitive, of laborers, the homeless, the destitute, and sorrowing mothers was hardly a revolt against either the canons of art or those of beauty. Rather, they were images of obedience to what he called his "inner voice." A devout Roman Catholic who believed that suffering can redeem the lives of others, he often portrayed his subjects as Christ-like figures. "Anyone can revolt," he wrote. "It is harder to obey in silence our own inner voice."

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