Galerie des Modernes

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Edouard Vuillard

Post impressionism, Nabi

(Cuiseaux, 1868 - La Baule, 1940)

A founding member of the Nabi movement, he distinguished himself in figure painting, portraiture, interiors, still life, intimate scenes, mural compositions and theater sets. 

Vuillard was raised in Paris in a modest family. His father died when he was twenty years old and his mother made a living by sewing. His older brother Alexandre entered the military and left home early. Édouard Vuillard was influenced by the women in his family: his mother, his grandmother and his older sister, who later married his best friend, the painter Ker-Xavier Roussel. Édouard Vuillard lived with his mother until the age of sixty, when she died. At the Lycée Condorcet he rubbed shoulders with the musician Pierre Hermant, the writer Pierre Veber and the painter Maurice Denis. In 1885, he left the high school and joined Ker-Xavier Roussel, his closest friend, at the studio of the painter Diogène Maillart. There they received the rudiments of artistic education. Vuillard began to attend the Louvre Museum and decided to pursue a career in art, breaking with the family tradition that had destined him for the army. 

In 1886, he entered the Académie Julian, where his teacher was Tony Robert-Fleury. In June 1887, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. During his studies, Vuillard became interested in realistic still lifes and domestic interiors. He was particularly interested in 17th century German artists. Later, Vuillard also painted large decorative panels of landscapes. 

In 1889, Maurice Denis convinced him to join a small dissident group at the Académie Julian, which produced works marked by symbolism and spirituality, and which proclaimed itself the "brotherhood of the Nabis. Paul Sérusier developed a love of the synthesist method in the Nabi group, which relied on memory and imagination rather than direct observation. Vuillard, at first reluctant to the idea that the painter was not trying to reproduce realistically what he saw, eventually, around 1890, tried his hand at his first synthesized works. 

Jos Hessel was his exclusive dealer and patron. His wife, Lucy, was his favorite model but also his mistress for many years; he portrayed her in The Alley in 1907. 

Vuillard painted many interior scenes, especially with his mother, until her death in 1928. The gentle atmosphere of these scenes of daily life, which he made a favorite subject, qualified him as an "intimist" artist.


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