Christ et docteur
Oil on paper mounted on canvas
Two figures in primary colors set in a square. From this simplest of compositions French Artist George Rouault creates a complex work of sacred art, rich in iconographic meaning. There is no mistaking who is who in Christ et docteur. Jesus has the look of a spiritual ascetic, lean and pale, painted in shades of blue, a color associated with heaven and spirituality. The elongated neck with pronounced vocal chords identifies him as the Word of God. With careworn face and downcast eyes, he seems to be contemplating his coming Passion. By contrast, the doctor of theology has a ruddy complexion and head too big for his well-fed body. He is rendered in the red tones Rouault uses for judges and other figures of earthly authority. For all his worldly wisdom, the doctor-intellectual is ill at ease, slightly off-balance, caught behind the black vertical line, which separates him from Christ and bisects the canvas into dark and light blue color planes. You might wonder if any communication is possible between these two men of different worlds were it not for Christ’s huge, ungainly hand, blurred in motion, as it reaches across the great divide to touch the doctor in a gesture of love, compassion and reconciliation.