Deeply spiritual, Rouault mined his Christian faith for artistic inspiration. French poet and critic André Suarès encouraged him, writing, "never smother the mystical song that rests deep inside you." Meditating on Christian scenes, Rouault used jewel-like colors, flattened figures, and heavy black outlines in a manner suggestive of stained glass. Twilight is one of many biblical landscapes the artist completed between 1929 and 1939. Although the painting’s title does not reference a specific story, the central figures who encounter blocked doorways under a darkening sky may be Joseph and Mary seeking shelter in Bethlehem, for Mary to give birth to the infant Christ.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): G Rouault
[Ambroise Vollard, Paris, 1937–d. 1939; acquired from the artist, probably on May 2, 1937; his estate, from 1939; sold to Salz]; [Sam Salz, New York, until 1951; sold in August 1951 to Spingold]; Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold, New York (1951–56; their gift to MMA)
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Rouault Retrospective Exhibition 1953," January 28–March 15, 1953, unnumbered cat. (p. 18; as "The Humane Landscape," 1928, lent by Mr. and Mrs. Nate B. Spingold, New York).
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Georges Rouault," March 31–May 31, 1953, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Nate and Frances Spingold Collection," March 23–June 19, 1960, unnumbered cat. (as "The Humane Landscape," 1928).
Waltham, Mass. Dreitzer Gallery, Spingold Theater, Brandeis University. "Nate B. and Frances Spingold Collection," June 11–16, 1965, no catalogue.
Museo d'Arte Moderna, Lugano. "Georges Rouault," March 23–June 22, 1997, no. 45.
Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 67.
Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 67.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde," September 13, 2006–January 7, 2007, no. 182.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Cézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde," February 17–May 13, 2007, no. 182.
Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "De Cézanne à Picasso: Chefs d'oeuvre de la galerie Vollard," June 19–September 16, 2007, no. 182.
Chestnut Hill, Mass. McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. "Mystic Masque: Semblance and Reality in Georges Rouault, 1871–1958," August 30–December 7, 2008, no. 52.
Kermit Lansner. "Georges Rouault: As Seen in the Retrospective Exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art at New York." Kenyon Review 15 (Summer 1953), p. 459.
Jacques Maritain. Georges Rouault (1871– ). New York, 1954, colorpl. 30, calls it "The Humane Landscape" and dates it 1928.
Pierre Courthion. Georges Rouault. New York, , p. 464, ill. p. 266.
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 222–23, ill., call it "Twilight (Crépuscule)"; note that according to a letter from the artist's daughter, this picture was created for Ambroise Vollard in 1937; surmise that it depicts a biblical theme.
Bernard Dorival and Isabelle Rouault. Rouault, l'œuvre peint. Monte-Carlo, 1988, vol. 2, p. 114, no. 1719, ill., call it "Crépuscule".
Fabrice Hergott inGeorges Rouault. Ed. Rudy Chiappini. Exh. cat., Museo d'Arte Moderna, Lugano. Milan, 1997, p. 230, no. 45, ill.
Rebecca A. Rabinow inCézanne to Picasso: Ambroise Vollard, Patron of the Avant-Garde. Ed. Rebecca A. Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2006, p. 401, no. 182, ill. and fig. 14 (color).
Stephen Schloesser inMystic Masque: Semblance and Reality in Georges Rouault, 1871–1958. Ed. Stephen Schloesser. Exh. cat., McMullen Museum of Art, Boston College. Chestnut Hill, Mass., 2008, p. 301, no. 52, ill. p. 557 (color).