|Self-portrait 1889 oil on canvas|
Vuillard was born in the Bourgogne region of France, to a soldier-turned-tax collector and his wife, a dressmaker. In 1877 the family moved to Paris. There Vuillard attended the Lycée Condorcet, where he befriended the future artists Maurice Denis and Ker-Xavier Roussel. After leaving school in 1885, he joined Roussel (who would later become his brother-in-law) at the studio of the painter Diogène Maillart. Vuillard then attended the Académie Julian in Paris for about a year, before passing the entrance exam for the Académie des Beaux-Arts in July 1887. Vuillard’s studies at the Académie Julian would have more of an impact on his work than his intermittent studies at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, however, as it was there that Vuillard met Pierre Bonnard, Paul Sérusier, and Félix Vallotton, and in 1889 joined the Nabis, a group of dissident students led by Sérusier.
The Nabis, whose name is derived from the Hebrew word for “prophet,” were determined to rid their art of any trace of academicism. Sérusier’s The Talisman, the Aven River at the Bois d’Amour of 1888, executed using the colour theory and artistic philosophy of Paul Gauguin, became a kind of manifesto under which the group operated (see the Paul Sérusier post in the November 2011 Blog Archive).
Its abstracted forms and Synthetist colour are mirrored in Vuillard’s work from 1890 on, when he was finally able to shake off the high finish and technical precision of his realist artistic training. Unlike some of his fellow Nabis, who were more closely drawn to theological or mythical subject matter, Vuillard focused mainly on women in domestic interiors, which would serve as his primary subject throughout the rest of his life. In 1892 and after, his work became elaborately patterned and mutely coloured.
During the 1890s Vuillard’s association with the anarchist journal La revue blanche led to several important decorative commissions from its editors, the brothers Thadée and Alexandre Natanson. In 1900 he met Lucie Hessel, whose husband, Jos Hessel, was his dealer at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris. Madame Hessel would become Vuillard’s model and close friend for the next four decades. In later years Vuillard moved toward a more luminous style influenced by Impressionism, but his work nevertheless retained the flat, decorative quality of Nabi painting. He died in La Baule, near Saint-Nazaire, while making his way to Hessel’s seaside home, on June 21, 1940.
|[date unknown] Children in a Room gouache on paper|
|1890 Grandmother Michaud Seen against the Light oil on canvas|
|1891 In Bed oil on canvas © photo RMN|
|1891 The Conversation oil on canvas|
|1891 The Dress with Foliage oil on canvas|
|1891 The Green Interior or Figure in front of a Window with Drawn Curtains oil on cardboard|
|c1891-2 Girls Walking oil on canvas|
|c1891 Child Wearing a Red Scarf oil on cardboard|
|c1891 Woman at her Toilette oil on cardboard|
|1891c Woman in Black oil on cardboard|
|1892 Breakfast oil on cardboard|
|1892 Sleep oil on canvas ©ADAGP - photo musée d'Orsay / rmn|
|1892 Under the Lamp or Two Women Under the Lamp oil on canvas|
|1892-3 Sewing Room oil on cardboard|
|1892-5c Evening in the Garden of the Alcazar © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris|
|1893 Length of Thread or Interior with Sewing Women oil on canvas|
|1893 Mrs Vuillard Sewing oil on cardboard|
|1893 Seated Woman, Cup of Coffee © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris|
|1893 The Studio or The Suitor oil on cardboard|
|c1893 Old Woman in an Interior oil on cardboard|
|c1893 The Yellow Curtain oil on canvas|
|c1893 Two Women Drinking Coffee oil on cardboard|
|1894 Breakfast oil on cardboard|
|1894 The Little Restaurant oil on paper © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris|
|1894 Two Schoolchildren. Public Gardens oil on canvas|
|c1894-5 Linen Closet oil on cardboard|
|c1894 Landscape of the Ile-de-France oil on cardboard|
|c1894 Woman Sitting by the Fireside oil on cardboard|