Oil on board
17 by 20 1/4 inches (43 x 51.5 cm)
Framed: 24 1/4 x 25 1/2 inches (61.5 x 70 cm)
Signed lower right: E Vuillard
Given by the artist for sale on behalf of the widow of painter Victor Vignon (1847-1909) Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 29 May 1911, lot 21 Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, as Le tapis à fleurages, no. 18777, 605 FRF
E. Laffon, Paris, 27 April 1914, 2.000 FRF
Fernando Lernoud, Buenos Aires, 1933
Gaby Salomon, Buenos Aires
Adolphe Stein, Paris
Nathan, Zurich, Switzerland, c. 1963
Private Collection, Germany, 1977
Buenos Aires, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Escuela Francesa, Siglos XIX y XX, 20th October – 5th November 1933, n° 126, ill. Mannheim, Kunsthalle, Die Nabis und ihre Freunde. Les Nabis et leurs amis, 23rd October 1963 – 6th January 1964, n° 316, ill. Lausanne, Palais de Beaulieu, Chefs-d’œuvre des collections suisses de Manet à Picasso, 1st May – 25th October 1964, n° 158, ill. Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Cinq siècles de peinture dans la lumière de Vermeer, 24th September – 28th November 1967, n° 143, ill. Munich, Haus der Kunst, Edouard Vuillard – K.-X. Roussel, n° 98, ill., 16th March – 12th May 1968 – Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Edouard Vuillard – K.-X. Roussel, n° 98, ill., 28th May – 16th September Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, Édouard Vuillard, 1868 – 1940, , n° 63, ill., 11th September – 24th October 1971 – San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Édouard Vuillard, 1868 – 1940, n° 63, ill., 18th November 1971 – 2nd January 1972 – Chicago, The Art Institue of Chicago, Édouard Vuillard, 1868 – 1940, , n° 63, ill., 29th January – 12th March 1972, n° 63, ill.
Anton Salomon and Guy Cogeval, Vuillard, Le Regard innombrable, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Wildenstein Institute, Paris 2003, vol. II, p.873, no. VIII-89, illustrated
Édouard Vuillard was born in Cuiseaux in 1868. He attended the Lycée Condorcet and trained at the studio of Diogène Maillart (1840–1926); soon deciding on an artistic career, breaking the family tradition of a career in the army.
In 1886 Vuillard entered the Académie Julian and in 1888 the Académie des Beaux-arts. The following year he joined a small group of art students that found inspiration in Japanese color woodcuts and the painting of Paul Gauguin. Calling themselves the Nabis, meaning “The Prophet” in Hebrew, the group experimented with a new concept of image space and painting from memory rather than directly in front of an object.
With other members of the Nabi group which included Pierre Bonnard, Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis, Vuillard exhibited small-scale works at the Le Barc de Boutteville gallery. Later in the 1890s he showed work at the renowned dealer, Ambroise Vollard’s studio. From 1900, along with Bonnard, he became increasingly naturalistic in style and the two artists were the primary practitioners of Intimisme, emphasizing color and depicting small groups of people in intimate surroundings.
In the early years of the 20th century Vuillard began to show work at the Parisian gallery of the Bernheim-Jeune family and was later contracted to them. Bonnard was very popular although personally he was reserved and quiet. Lucy Hessel, wife of Jos Hessel, a partner in Bernheir-Jeune, became a close friend, confidante and model. His works were primarily interior domestic scenes. Characteristic of Vuillard’s association with the Nabis is the emphasis on decorative patterns, as in the present example.
Madame Hessel is the primary focus in this lovely interior scene. She sits in a chair reading, her hand to her face, legs outstretched and resting on an adjoining chair. Beautifully dressed in pink and white, her elegant dress echoes the colors in the exquisite white carpet peppered with pink flowers for which the painting is named. Warm light emanates from an oil lamp atop a small table nearby, which illuminates her pages as well as the painting itself. The room is well appointed with several beautiful chairs, indicating perhaps a parlor or sitting room, and the peach floral motif on the wallpaper renders the room with a decidedly feminine air.