Originally from Switzerland, Félix Vallotton encountered artistic modernity in Paris, where he joined a group of artists known as the Nabis (a word stemming from the Hebrew for “prophet”), who aimed to revitalize painting. His reserved character and Swiss nationality earned him the nickname “Nabi étranger.” Over the years, Vallotton developed a close friendship with Édouard Vuillard, who was a leader of the Nabis. They shared an interest in studying the landscape, and together explored the countryside with a portable Kodak camera and sketchbook before returning to the studio to compose their final pictures. In 1902, Vallotton joined Vuillard on the Normandy coast, where this painting was made. The subject’s face is shaded by the brim of the cap, but the angular features and the red beard reveal he is Vuillard. The artist and the surrounding nature are shown as one: like a great tree, he is a noble and powerful presence.