Frédéric Rouge

(1867 - 1950)

About the Centenary Exhibition

F11 = plein écran
 
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1924 (Musée Arlaud) - 1967 à Ollon - 1985 à Epalinges - 1998 aux Diablerets - Aigle 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015
Le catalogue de l'exposition - Articles de presse - English - About the Centenary Exhibition - Deutsch

Madame Rouge has asked me if I would write a report about the Centenary Exhibition of the works of her late husband, Frederic Rouge 1867/1967 at Ollon in the State of Vaud, Switzerland from July 12 to August 20, 1967. I visited the Exhibition the day before it closed and I have since been told the attendance reached a total of 6,500.

It was a delightful and revealing experience, not only to see the results of the lifetime of a natural artist, but to be invited into his beautiful old Swiss home and his atelier.

The Exhibition had been well hung by the Committee and there were examples of the painter's work from the age of 17 to the age when cataract of the eyes had hazed his vision and the last pictures convey a misty impressionistic quality. He was a prolific painter and apart from the one hundred or more pictures in this Exhibition, there is no record of many more which have passed to private owner-ship. The general effect of the Exhibition shows the painter's intense love of the simple life and of the magnificent, scenery around him . His interests were of the country life - mountaineering, hunting forestry, natural history, athletics and the daily life of the village his mastery of texture is remarkable; skin, fur, fabric, rock, water, etc. and it remains evident in photographic reproductions in black and white.

Frederic Rouge was also a good portrait painter. One of his earliest commissions was the portrait of Urbain Olivier, a writer, who became his first patron when Rouge was about 20 years old. It is a notable work. I was also very interested in one of the smallest portraits. The modelling of the middle-aged man's features was very skilful and one wondered if the painter had ever attempted miniatures. No. 52 in the catalogue, "La Lutte des Armaillis" was a delightful watercolour and I was impressed with the modelling of a pencil study for "Le jet de pierre". Landscapes are full of light and air - No. 1, "Chevaux dans la Plaine du Rhône", pictured in the catalogue, could be compared with a Corot. No. 35, "Les Rochers d'Aï " is a wonderful example of his beloved mountains. I have not seen any finished examples of his stained glass but the sketches are beautiful in colour and theme.

I visited the church at Ollon where there is a wall painting executed by Frederic Rouge, "Le Semeur" in an ancient arched niche which was uncovered in the North Wall.. About the same time, a primitive painted mural was discovered above the arch. The whole effect, by its very simplicity, makes a powerful focal point in the church.

Some months ago, on a visit to a daughter of Frederic Rouge, I looked through her copy of the book "Cinquante ans de peinture Frederic Rouge" published in 1933. I asked her where the originals could be seen. She replied, "They are mostly in the cellars of Museums.... he is no longer fashionable". I expressed the opinion that the Swiss, who are not so well-endowed with the Arts, could ill-afford to ignore such talent. In England, a comparable case is Landseer who, until recently, suffered in the same way. Perhaps this comprehensive Exhibition of Frederic Rouge will bring him into favour again.

I told Madame Rouge I would try to trace some of the lost pictures and in particular, the conversation piece, "Recit de Chasse" and "Un Conseil", both reproduced in the catalogue. It may be of interest to relate that after leaving the Exhibition, a very upright old lady walking down the street ahead of us, was pointed out as the subject of the latter picture. She is now 75 and despite the advice being given to the young man in the back-ground of the picture, Collette Bercier is still unmarried. Very happily, she agreed to our taking the attached picture of her in her garden when my husband remarked to her, "Older, still beautiful and...much wiser".

Norah F. Thomas

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Un conseil (1909)

Model Colette Bercier as she was 17 years old !

 
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