Birth name Jean-Édouard Vuillard
Born November 11, 1868, Cuiseaux (Saoneet-Loire), France
Died June 21, 1940, La Baule, France
Movement Post-Impressionism, Nabis
His family went to Paris when he was ten. He was a clever pupil at the Lycee Condorcet. His friend Ker-Xavier Roussel, later his brother-in-law, introduced him to painting. He attended the Academie Julian, then the Beaux-Arts, coming into contact with Lugne-Poe, Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard. Odilon Redon influenced him, as did the Nabis whom he joined in 1889 together with Denis, Ranson, Bonnard and Vallotton. He designed posters and programmes for the Theatre de l'Oeuvre. His first exhibition took place in the salon of the Revue Blanche in 1891. His technique was his own invention: oils, gouache and distemper used simultaneously give his works a matt, fresco-like quality. Vuillard was, above all, an in timist; he never tired of treating staircases, bedrooms, studies, dining-rooms, women sleeping or performing household chores, dressmakers, fitting sessions and other trivial incidents, family scenes, especially mothers and their children; the only departures from such scenes were outdoor extensions of family life-squares, country houses, afternoon walks. Contented contemporary society found in the pleasant delicacy and poetic refinement of his work new reasons for believing in its own perenniality. Vuillard was inspired by Japanese prints (Seamstresses by Lamplight, 1892). In 1900 he was appointed professor at the Academie Ranson. He decorated various public buildings, including the Comedie des Champs-Elysees and the Theatre de Chaillot (Paris). He also received his share of success and official honours, becoming a member of the Institut. His delicately harmonising greys and muted half-tones give his work its intimist character (Interior, 1899). From 1900 onwards his style became more realist, as can be seen, for instance, in Model undressing. After focusing his attention on the Impressionist landscape painters, he realised the need to diversify his subjects, to set up his easel out-of doors, whether in theetown, as in La Place Clichy, or beside the sea (The Road to the Sea); in short, to give more attention to light. Hence, in A Portrait of M. Arthur Fontaine sunlight illuminates the sitter's cheek and the right side of the desk with yellow, red and mauve. Nevertheless, Vuillard still preserved his youthful manner: his canvases retained their synthetic layout, and his increasingly bright colours in Red Dining-room he resorts to the same spruceness of tone that Bonnard used from then onwards-retained their individual musicality. Vuillard's last pictures were painted in more conventional style.
Post-Impressionism, Michel-Claude Jalard, Edito Service SA, Geneva