Edouard (Jean-Édouard) Vuillard (1868 – 1940)

Edouard (Jean-Édouard) Vuillard, Farhat Art Museum Collection

This biography from the Archives of AskART: A post-impressionist French painter who was one of the revolutionaries of the Nabis movement that paved the way for abstraction, Edouard Vuillard had a long career spanning the late 19th and nearly half of the 20th Century. His work, often with luminosity, became increasingly abstract and colorful, which some art historians link to Henri Matisse and the Fauves. Among his subjects were figures in interiors, landscapes, portraiture and large-scale decorations, and methods included drawings, graphics, folding screen painting, theatre-program designs, ceramics and photographs as well as oil painting. Of his five panel screen, Place Vintimille, he completed in 1911 and that is an elaborate depiction of city life around a park, he wrote: “Voilà: Place Vintimille, so green with spring and full of life! I love this view from my apartment window. Do you see the narrow brown buildings across the park and the double-decker cart in the street below? Look, there is a boy checking his bicycle tire, and nearby, a man sleeping against the fence. Of course, you can always find all sorts of vendors and nannies walking with their little ones. For me, the sidewalk winds around the park like a creamy ribbon, wrapping everything in a package of sparkling color.” (National Gallery of Art)The availability of Kodak cameras and their portability to get lasting images from which to model was a big enhancement to Vuillard and other painters of his era, especially the Nabis that included Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Felix Vallotton. When Vuillard began using the camera frequently at the turn of the century, his output of landscape paintings increased, one of the reasons being that he loved staying in the countryside to take photos.Born in Cuiseaux in Saone-et-Loire with the full name of Jean-Edouard Vuillard, he spent his childhood in Paris and attended the Lycée Condorcet where Maurice Denis was a fellow student. In 1885, when he was seventeen, he joined the studio of Diogene Maillart (1840-1926) and received the basics in art training. At that time he began a pattern of frequently visiting the Louvre and filling his journals with sketches, particularly of the Dutch and Italian Old Master. Unlike most of his male peers who joined the army, he determined to become an artist. He remained unmarried and lived with his mother, a dressmaker, until he was age sixty.He died in La Baule, France in 1940.In January to May, 2003, an exhibition of work by Vuillard opened at the National Gallery in Washington DC and then traveled to collaborating museums: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Réunion des musées nationaux/Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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