To all appearances, Vuillard led an uneventful life. He was part of the first group of Nabis, or “prophets,” the young avant-garde followers of Paul Gauguin. He executed many paintings of middle-class interiors in which his sitters blend into the space. The woman in this painting is Vuillard’s sister Marie, sitting alone in the family apartment. A veil of sadness seems to hang over this mysterious scene; the main figure emerges gradually from total darkness, barely broken by a few notes of colour with the light-coloured patterned dress, the red curtain, a stylized tree trunk. Vuillard comes close to creating a Symbolist mood in this poignant composition. His set designs also played with the emergence of figures from backgrounds plunged in darkness.