Vuillard’s mother, Madame Marie Vuillard, was a constant in her son’s life and in his art. More than five hundred 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. In this lecture, Dr. Francesca Berry will foreground the substance of Madame Vuillard’s role in the practical undertaking of her son’s art, whether that was as model, technician, advisor, financier or servant. Berry will argue that, together, Vuillard and his mother brought a petit-bourgeois woman’s experience of domesticity into visibility as a complex, alternative motif to the domesticated femininity otherwise favoured by the Nabis.
Dr Francesca Berry is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Art History, Curating and Visual Studies at the University of Birmingham. Before joining Birmingham in 2005, Francesca studied for her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at University College London. She proceeded to a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Royal College of Art and Victoria & Albert Museum. Francesca is currently chair of the editorial group of the Oxford Art Journal and has served on its board since 2010. Francesca specialises in interior and domestic space in French modernist art, visual culture and design, particularly from a feminist perspective, and has published many articles in this field. She was curator of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts’ 2018-19 ‘Maman: Vuillard and Madame Vuillard’ exhibition and co-author of its catalogue. Francesca is currently writing a book, contracted to Bloomsbury Academic, entitled Édouard Vuillard and the Nabis: Art and the Politics of Domesticity.