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Friday, 18 January 2013 04:34

Edouard Vuillard: A Nabi & His Muses

“I don’t paint portraits; I paint people in their homes,” Edouard Vuillard (1868–1940) famously said. Wallpaper, lamps, blankets and shawls, musical instruments, books, and paintings were all clues that revealed the taste and character of his subjects, at home in their habitat. His enthusiastic patrons, many of whom were Jewish, included his dealers, collectors, publishers, and theater impresarios. He, in turn became their chronicler, opening a window into their elegant world as he recorded the rich social and cultural life of fin de siècle France through 1940. Among this group were the three women who served as his muses during the various stages of the career of the bachelor Vuillard. They were, first and foremost, his mother; Misia Natanson, the kittenish concert pianist and wife of publisher Thadée Natanson; and the pugnacious Lucie Hessel, wife of art dealer Jos Hessel.

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