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Painting, 1904, 50×77 cm
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Description of the artwork «Interior»

The American painter and art critic Fairfield Porter believed that it had been modern art’s mistake to follow Cézanne, not Vuillard. He meant Vuillard’s ability to kindle deep psychological dramas and show the ambiguous social and personal relations in the picture by using nothing else but solely means of painting. All these lamps, curtains, tablecloths, upholstery, carpets can be poignantly picturesque. They fill the space of a picture to the extent when a person blends into it as its integral part. As though all the air has been sucked from the room, and the patterns on the wallpaper are, little by little, occupying its place. Sometimes, the character’s figure is hidden in this world with such determination that you cannot discern it even on the second view.

Even when one can get a view of the face, the figure, nevertheless, merges with the interior of the room. To give an idea of a person’s might and energy, Vuillard often showed him or her in plain, preferably black clothes.
Vuillard said he did not paint portraits, but people in their surroundings. This Interior is a typical example that portrays a home with unnamed dwellers. Perhaps, it is Jos Hessel’s family. Hessel was an art dealer and seller of Vuillard’s works. The painter had a long-lasting affair with Hessel’s wife. The Hessels met him in 1900 and became his most frequent models, patrons, and friends. Vuillard would stay at their place quite long, they spent holidays in the country together. In these strange relations, Jos was a phlegmatic bystander, and Lucy Hessel had been Vuillard’s lover, best model, and muse for 40 years.

The woman engaged in needlework seems to be about to fall out of the frame, but still, she is in the focus of our attention. One would like to make her turn and watch her face. The man and the child are busy doing some job or playing a game. Compositionally, they are all allotted quite little space in the crammed, dense interior. Their social and family roles are predetermined and played many times. Everything is arranged so rhythmically — the colorful upholstery and drapery, the view through the window and the reflection in the mirror, — that every single element correlates with the others, as if sounding in unison, in quiet harmony. The house cradles the people living here, wraps them in soft, cozy, rich habitualness.

Yes, modern art once took Cézanne’s way, but Vuillard’s followers are still found nowadays. They are photographers for glamorous magazines with their conceptual series of photos: children from different countries in their rooms, women from different countries in their bedrooms. In photos like these, an old shabby mattress on the earth floor in an Asian boy’s dwelling, or cabinets stuffed with toys in a Japanese girl’s room, characterize their life better than if these children spoke about it themselves.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
from 1450 rub
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Interior

Style of art: Nabi

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1904

Size: 50×77 cm

Artwork in selections: 7 selections

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