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Édouard Vuillard

Seated Woman in a Dark Room


Édouard Vuillard
Cuiseaux, France, 1868 – La Baule, France, 1940


Seated Woman in a Dark Room


About 1895


Oil on cardboard mounted on panel


36.7 x 26.3 cm


Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2001.111


Western Art

To all appearances Vuillard led an uneventful life. He was one of the first group of Nabis, or “prophets,” a young avant-garde in the following of Gauguin. He executed many paintings of middle-class interiors in which the people dissolve into space. The seated woman in this painting is Vuillard’s sister Marie, left 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—the light-coloured patterned dress, the red curtain, a stylized tree trunk. In this poignant composition, Vuillard comes very close to the Symbolist mode. We know that the theatre sets he designed were also made to accord with the imperceptible entry of the actors from the back of a stage plunged in complete darkness at the start.

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