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EDOUARD VUILLARD (1868-1940)
Edouard Vuillard, one of the great postimpressionists, is especially loved for his small easel paintings that capture the charm and mystery of everyday life. Yet at the same time that he was making his name as an "intimist" artist, he was also creating a number of large-scale canvases, panels, and screens commissioned to decorate the homes of his patrons and friends. Infrequently exhibited, these works were separated from their original settings during Vuillard's lifetime, and they have remained a relatively unknown aspect of his oeuvre.
In this lavishly illustrated study of Vuillard as decorator, Gloria Groom examines the two earliest decades of his career, a period when he produced fifty daring and important large-scale paintings as decoration. Groom discusses these early works and recreates and reevaluates their original context, providing valuable new information about Vuillard's career, a fresh perspective on his thinking about art, and an entertaining social history of fin-de-siècle Paris. She describes not only Vuillard's large decorative projects but also the industrialists, bankers, doctors, financiers, journalists, playwrights, and foreign aristocrats who commissioned them--wealthy individuals who came from a social and economic milieu decidedly different from Vuillard's own. Drawing on his patrons' archives and memoirs and on interviews with their surviving family members, as well as on Vuillard's own private journals, Groom evokes the circumstances and setting of each of these ambitious projects. She situates Vuillard's decorative works within the evolution of his other easel paintings, discusses the notion of "decoration" as a new painting style, as well as a complement to the aesthetics of the Art Nouveau movement, and compares Vuillard's works as a painter-decorator to similar projects undertaken by his contemporaries.
Gloria Groom is assistant curator in the department of European painting at The Art Institute of Chicago.