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Edouard Vuillard - Les anémones sur une petite table

Edouard Vuillard

Les anémones sur une petite table

Oil on canvas: 23.4(h) x 28.5(w) in / 59.4(h) x 72.4(w) cm
Stamped with the signature lower right: E. Vuillard

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EDOUARD VUILLARD

 Cuiseaux, Saône-et-Loire 1868 - 1940 La Baule near Saint-Nazaire

Ref: BZ 126

                                               

Les anémones sur une petite table

 

Stamped with the signature lower right: E. Vuillard

Oil on canvas: 23 3/8 x 28½ in / 59.4 x 72.4 cm

Frame Size: 31 x 36 x 3½ inches

 

In a carved and gilded Louis XIV style frame

 

Painted circa 1905-7

 

 

Provenance:

The artist’s estate

Sam Salz, New York;

from whom acquired by Mr Henry Ford II, Grosse Pointe Farms, Palm Beach and London;

by descent

 

Literature:

Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, Vuillard, The Inexhaustible Glance, Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, vol. II, Paris 2003, p.789, no.VII-500, illus. 

 

 

Edouard Vuillard’s painting is steeped in the intimisme of domestic life. As a student copying paintings in the Louvre, his preferred subjects were seventeenth century Dutch interiors and the still lifes of Chardin. Like John Constable with his Stour valley landscapes, Vuillard’s imagination was set free by the familiar. In 1889 he joined the Nabis (‘Prophets’), a group of artists including Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard, who experimented with Synthetism, which prized memory rather than direct observation, simple blocks of colour and the deliberate focus on the two-dimensional picture plane. Vuillard’s paintings of the 1890s frequently feature his dressmaker sister and mother in their modest Parisian home. Works such as Interior, the dressmaking room, 1893 (private collection, USA)[1] employ a dark palette, with emphasis on simplification and pattern-making influenced by Japanese prints.

 

By 1905 Vuillard had moved away from the Synthetist style and introduced more light and space into his paintings, while retaining a love of pattern and a richly decorative palette. He had segued into the haut bourgeois world of Jos Hessel, a partner in the art dealing firm of Bernheim-Jeune, with whom he began exhibiting in 1900. From 1901 until the First World War Vuillard spent summers in Normandy and Brittany with Hessel and his wife Lucy, who became his mistress and muse.

 

Les anémones sur une petite table is one of a group of paintings that Vuillard made around 1905 featuring flowers on a delicate, square table. The setting is probably his apartment in the Rue de la Tour, near the Bois de Boulogne. The dynamic, oblique perspective is characteristic of his work at this period. The diamond shapes of the table and adjacent desk lead the eye into the room. Their geometric shapes are broken by the delightful anarchy of the anemones and the curves of the mantelpiece. Vuillard’s skill with colour and his joy in the tactile qualities of paint is fully in evidence. He revels in the red of the anemones against the green-glazed jug, the bright blue object on the mantelpiece, reduced almost to abstraction, and the stripes of yellow and blue on the desk. The pearly white of the chimneypiece and wallpaper, suffused with coloured shadows, unifies the composition.

 

The critic JE Schnerb wrote of the artist in 1907: ‘M Vuillard…showed us how skilfully he composes his interiors, portrays the familiar scenes behind his flowers, all the while observing like a Dutch painter the play of light and the recession of planes, how he imbues his painting with the charm of subtlety and wit’[2].

 

A similar square table with a vase of daisies appears in Vuillard’s Stoneware jug, signed and dated 1907 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)[3]. Anemones were a favourite flower, found in many of his still lifes and in studies such as Anemones, 1906 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris)[4].

 

This painting was in the collection of Henry Ford II (1917-1987), grandson of Henry Ford and President of the motor company which his grandfather founded. Henry Ford and his wife Kathleen DuRoss Ford collected outstanding paintings, furniture and works of art, divided between their homes in Palm Beach, Eaton Square, London and Turville Grange, Oxfordshire.

 

 

 

Edouard Vuillard, Stoneware jug, 1907.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

 

 

 

 

EDOUARD VUILLARD

Cuiseaux, Saône-et-Loire 1868 – 1940 La Baule near Saint-Nazaire

 

Edouard Vuillard was born in Cuiseaux in 1868, the son of Honoré Vuillard, a Captain in the Marine Infantry, and his wife Marie Michaud, who came from a family of textile manufacturers. In 1877 the family moved to Paris, where Edouard attended the prestigious Lycée Condorcet, along with his friends and future artists Kerr-Xavier Roussel and Maurice Denis. He studied at the Académie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Jean-Léon Gérôme, as well as making copies of paintings in the Louvre, particularly seventeenth century Dutch interiors and the still lifes of Chardin.

 

In 1889 Vuillard joined the Nabis (‘Prophets’), a group of artists including Paul Sérusier, Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard, who experimented with Synthetism, which prized memory rather than direct observation, simple blocks of colour and the deliberate focus on the two-dimensional picture plane. Throughout the 1890s Vuillard painted domestic scenes, frequently featuring his dressmaker sister and mother in their modest Parisian apartment. He used a dark palette, with emphasis on simplification and flat pattern-making influenced by Japanese prints. Vuillard was a keen theatre-goer and the mysterious relationships in these works reflect his exposure to the plays of Maeterlinck and Ibsen.

 

Vuillard was taken into the haut bourgeois world of Thadée Natanson, Editor-in-Chief of the Revue Blanche, and his flamboyant wife Misia. In 1894 he was commissioned by Thadée’s brother Alexandre Natanson to execute nine panels on the theme of Public gardens for his mansion in the Avenue du Bois (now scattered between the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; the Museum of Fine Art, Houston, TX and the Musée d’Art Moderne, Brussels). In 1900 Vuillard began exhibiting with Bernheim-Jeune. From 1901 until the First World War he spent summers in Normandy and Brittany with Jos Hessel, a partner in the firm, and his wife Lucy, who became Vuillard’s muse and mistress. Vuillard frequently depicted the interiors of the Hessels’ comfortable homes, still taking a delight in patterns and domestic minutiae, but employing a lighter palette and more three-dimensional space. The Hessels’ circle included actors and playwrights: in 1912 Vuillard received his first commission for a public building, decorations on Classical Comedy and Modern Comedy for the new Comédie des Champs-Elysées. He was also in demand as a portraitist of the beau monde, portraying his sitters within interiors that expressed their personalities or professions, for example the writer Théodore Duret in his study, 1912 (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC).

Vuillard was a war artist in the First World War and painted two panels of assembly-line work at the Lazare-Lévy munitions factory (Musée d’Art Moderne, Troye), where Thadée Natanson was a Director. In 1937 his four portraits of his Nabi friends Roussel, Denis, Bonnard and Maillol were shown at the Exposition Internationale and bought by the City of Paris (Petit Palais, Paris). A final major project was the huge mural (in situ) for the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Vuillard was elected to the Institut de France in 1937 and a major retrospective of his work was held at the Pavillon de Marsan in Paris the following year. He fled Paris upon the Nazi invasion and died in La Baule near Saint-Nazaire on 21st June 1940.

 

 

 

[1] Salomon and Cogeval, op. cit., vol. I, p.291, no.IV-116, illus. in colour.

[2] ‘Les expositions. Chez MM Bernheim-Jeune: fleurs et natures mortes’, La Grande Revue, 10th December 1907, p.584. Quoted in Washington DC, National Gallery of Art/The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts/Paris, Grand Palais/London, Royal Academy of Arts, Edouard Vuillard, exh. cat. by Guy Cogeval et. al., p.331.

[3] Salomon and Cogeval, Vuillard, op.cit., vol. II, p.789, no.VII-501, illus. in colour.

[4] Salomon and Cogeval, ibid., vol. II, p.783, no.VII-493.9, illus.