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Conceived in 1916 during World War I, Rouault's Miserere reflected his profound and religious meditations on the sufferings of mankind. Vollard envisioned 100 engravings and Rouault had completed more than half by 1927. The anticipated text was never written, the project was shelved and the 57 plates lay unpublished until 1948.
"The world he depicts is a murky one of human imperfection, loaded down with the burden of original sin. Through this world, lit by a pale and distant polar sun, trudge human beings, striving against nearly hopeless odds and obstacles toward divine mercy and redemption."