Daily Art Moment: Édouard Vuillard

Image description: Vuillard, Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist, 1893, oil on canvas. This painting is crowded with busy patterns and two women looking out towards the viewer. The young woman on the left wears a hunter green, yellow and white plaid dress and is leaning against the wall while bending forward at the waist as if to stay in the painting. The wall behind her is patterned of many colored splotches including white, crimson, yellow and dark green. Despite competing patterns the young woman almost blends into the wall, save for her pale face and hands. An older woman is seated on a chair in the middle of the space. She is wearing an all black dress and her pale face and hands offer contrast. The rug beneath them is a tan color and appears to have a subtle pattern to it. At the back of the room, in the corner, is a warm brown wooden dresser with drawers and on the far right of the scene, next to the seated woman is a round table covered with a brown, yellow, orange and cream patterned tablecloth. On top of the table sits a large wine bottle, an empty white plate and a crumpled white napkin.
Édouard Vuillard (French, 1868–1940), Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist, 1893. Oil on canvas; 463 x 56.5 cm. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Saidie A. May, 141.1934.

Artist Édouard Vuillard found inspiration from the people closest at hand, as seen in our current special exhibition, Private Lives: Home and Family in the Art of the Nabis, 1889–1900. Vuillard’s mother, Madame Marie Vuillard, was a constant in her son’s life and in his art. More than 500 paintings in which she is depicted, made over a period of four decades, are testament to this. Vuillard and his mother shared a series of modest rented apartments, a Parisian co-habitation lasting until her death in 1928. In these rooms Vuillard and Madame Vuillard operated mutually supportive, parallel working practices: Vuillard put his mother and her small sewing business ‘in the picture’, while she posed for his pencil and camera or printed his photographs.

Join us online this Sunday at 2 p.m. (PST) with Dr. Francesca Berry for her lecture on Madame Vuillard’s role in the practical undertaking of her son’s art, whether that was as model, technician, advisor, financier, or servant. Register for free.

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