Jean-Édouard Vuillard was born on 11 November 1868, in Cuiseaux, Saône-et-Loire. Vuillard’s family moved to Paris in 1877, where he studied at the Lycée Condorcet and befriended Maurice Denis and Ker-Xavier Roussel. He graduated in 1885 and, deciding not to follow his father into the military, began studying art at the Académie Julian before joining the École des Beaux-Arts in 1888. At the Académie Julian, Vuillard met Pierre Bonnard and Paul Sérusier, and he would join the avant-garde group led by Sérusier, Les Nabis, in 1889. Meanwhile, Vuillard would collaborate with theatre producer Aurélien Lugné-Poë on the Théâtre de l’Œuvre, creating set designs for numerous productions, including Alfred Jarry’s Ubu roi, and Maeterlinck’s L’Intruse and Les Aveugles. Through Les Nabis’ close association with La Revue Blanche, he also contributed illustrations to the left-wing periodical, and would receive commissions from its editors, Alexandre and Thadée Natanson, over the subsequent years.
During the 1890s, Vuillard embraced the Symbolist approach to colour, applied in simplified flat forms inspired by Japanese prints, that characterised the aesthetic theories of Les Nabis. Much like Bonnard, he had a particular affinity for interior scenes and filled his compositions with contrasting elaborate patterns of wallpaper and women’s dresses. With the dissolution of Les Nabis in 1900, Vuillard’s style and subjects began to change. His work became increasingly bright in palette, whilst he also began to paint en plein air. Alongside interiors, he depicted park and street scenes in Paris as well as portraits of his artistic friends, whilst his work returned towards the naturalism of his pre-Nabi days.
In 1900, he met Lucie Hessel, whose husband, Jos Hessel, was his dealer at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris. This was the start of a lifelong friendship, where Lucie would become a regular model for the artist. Galerie Bernheim-Jeune would also host a solo exhibition of Vuillard’s work in 1908. Over the final decades of his life, Vuillard executed decorative commissions for the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées (1913), Palais de Chaillot (1937), and the League of Nations, Geneva (1939). In 1938, he was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and was the subject of a major retrospective at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. Vuillard died on 21 June 1940, in La Baule, Loire-Atlantique.
Vuillard’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena; the State Hermitage, St. Petersburg; Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid; Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the National Gallery, London; the Tate Collection, London.
Please contact the gallery for further information on this artist.