Edouard VUILLARD (Cuiseaux 1868 - La Baule 1940)

Model on a Green Sofa (Modèle sur un sofa vert) Sold

Pastel.
Signed E Vuillard at the lower right.
544 x 500 mm. (21 3/8 x 19 3/4 in.)

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The present sheet is a fine example of Edouard Vuillard's use of pastel. The interior depicted would appear to be the artist's studio on the Boulevard Malesherbes. As Jacques Salomon has described the composition, 'A model in dark-green clothes is seated at bottom left on a sofa cluttered with portfolios of drawings. The wall is pink and hung with paintings; on the right is an illegible orange canvas.'

Vuillard's domestic interior scenes, which usually include members of his family and close friends, 'are not intended as portraits, nor are they genre paintings in the true sense of the term. Rather, they are evocations of the private world of the artist's personal experience...[and] provide a tantalizing view into a cloistered and rarefied world occupied almost entirely by women...Vuillard's women are perpetually absorbed in their occupations and, with only rare exceptions, remain totally unconscious of the presence of the artist and the gaze of the viewer.'

The woman in the present pastel may possibly be identified as Lucie Belin, also known as Lucie Ralph, whom the artist met in 1914. A beautiful young dressmaker's apprentice and aspiring actress, she began posing for Vuillard soon after they met, and by 1915 was to become his mistress. As Guy Cogeval has written, she 'may well have been the love of [Vuillard's] life…No one seems to have been aware of the intensity of their romantic but stormy relationship.'

As has also been noted, 'Though she posed for Vuillard from the very beginning, she is increasingly present in the form of almost daily mentions in the artist's Journal for 1915, the year in which Vuillard painted numerous portraits of her in his boulevard Malesherbes studio. Not only was Lucie Belin one of Vuillard's most assiduous models, she was also his lover and quite one of the most important women in his life, judging by the number of times he mentions her not only in his Journal…but also...in the photographs he took of her between 1915 and 1916. No other person was photographed by Vuillard with such manifest passion…The many photographs Vuillard made of the beautiful Lucie show that she is not just a subject for compositions, but the object of a passion seldom experienced by the painter, which reached its height between June and October 1915. By then he was seeing her almost daily…For the moment, Vuillard was enjoying a period of intense happiness with Lucie. Her youth, her simplicity, her real beauty captivated him. He seems to have been particularly taken with her outfits, which she cut and sewed herself, and by her large round hat.'

Provenance:
Galerie Druet, Paris (no.11806, as Dans l'atelier), with a gallery label on the frame backing board
David David-Weill, Paris
Confiscated by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg in 1941
Restituted to David David-Weill after June 1945
His wife, Mme. Flora David-Weill, Paris, by 1954
Baronne de Bastard, Paris
Wildenstein & Cie., Paris
Acquired from them in c.1972 by a private collection, United Kingdom
Private collection, since 2008.

Literature:
Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, Vuillard: The Inexhaustible Glance. Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, Milan, 2003, Vol.III, p.1199, no.X-40 (where dated 1915).

Edouard VUILLARD

Model on a Green Sofa (Modèle sur un sofa vert)

C048

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