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    Sale 12070

    Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper

    13 May 2016, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1083

    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

    Portrait de Jacques Laroche enfant, à sa table de travail

    Price Realised  


    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
    Portrait de Jacques Laroche enfant, à sa table de travail
    signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right)
    gouache and pastel on paper laid down on canvas
    48 ¾ x 37 ½ in. (123.7 x 95.2 cm.)
    Executed in 1916

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    The present work is an exquisite example of Vuillard’s masterful portraiture and domestic interior scenes, two stylistic categories which defined the artist’s later career. Executed in 1916, this subject is demonstrative of Vuillard’s artistic shift away from the Nabi circle’s abstract Synthetism and towards a more naturalistic style. Vuillard’s work in the early 1900s is characterized by his growing interest in interior scenes and commissioned portraits, often in pastel, which Claude Roger Marx describes as illustrating “an increasing virtuosity in the evocation of a person presiding over a number of commonplace objects” (op. cit., 1946, p. 92). The quiet domesticity of Vuillard’s interiors led him to be described by art historians as a pioneering intimiste, along with fellow painter Pierre Bonnard. During the beginning of the 20th century, Vuillard was drawn to realistic studies of still-lifes and domestic interiors with a palpable sense of depth and dimension. The characteristics of the sitters, the details of the furniture, and spaces of the rooms themselves are more clearly defined in these later work than in his earlier Nabi pieces.
    Rather than depicting a generic or ambiguous figure, the present work clearly portrays a specific individual, described by Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval as a “melancholic youth surrounded by his favorite objects… [his] face dominated by two large sad eyes is that of a well-behaved child” (op. cit., 2003, p. 1280). The subject is Jacques Laroche, son of Parisian industrialist, and art collector Jean Laroche. Like many of Vuillard’s sitters, the members of the Laroche family were upper class figures of fashionable society. Salomon and Cogeval further explain that “During the war years, major figures of the Paris bourgeoisie…continued to appear in Vuillard’s order book… [including] Jacques Laroche” (ibid., p. 1644). Jacques was the subject of more than one portrait by Vuillard before 1920. The Laroche family’s vast collection of 19th and 20th century art was bequeathed to Jacques after his father’s death. Jacques subsequently donated a large part of his collection to the Louvre, the majority of which is now at the Musée d'Orsay.
    Here, young Jacques is shown sitting at his desk. Vuillard skillfully depicts scraps of paper pinned to the wall, intricate designs on the wallpaper, and an elaborate fireplace mantle without distracting from the primary subject of the work. He deftly splays electric lighting over a map of the Paris métro behind Jacques’ desk, leaving the rest of the room scattered with shadow. This detailed depiction serves in stark contrast to Vuillard's earlier, more abstract portraiture, and it has been suggested that his more traditional use of space in his later works can be attributed to his growing interest in photography. A hobby he picked up on in the 1890s, Vuillard likely appreciated the camera’s practicality of instantaneously capturing the memories of his relationships and domestic scenes, as described by Dominique du Font-Réaulx. Photos provided Vuillard’s viewers with a window into the world in which he lived, and these images often depicted the same everyday interior subjects as his drawings and paintings. According to Font-Réaulx, Vuillard wanted to use photography to capture the repetition of regular scenes, and this “snapshot” of Jacques Laroche’s homework hour is exemplary of how Vuillard executed this idea.
    Portrait de Jacques Laroche enfant remained with the family and is now sold on behalf of the Laroche's heirs, together with two superb oil paintings by Vuillard from the 1930s in the Day Sale (Lots 1271 and 1272).


    Jean Laroche, Paris (acquired from the artist, May 1916).
    Jacques Laroche, Paris (by descent from the above).
    By descent from the above to the present owners.

    Pre-Lot Text



    C. Roger-Marx, Vuillard, His Life and Work, London, 1946, pp. 92 and 185.
    F. Duret-Robert, "Ventes très prochaines," Connaissance des Arts, no. 522, November 1995, pp. 103 and 105 (illustrated in color, p. 104, fig. 3).
    A. Salomon and G. Cogeval, Vuillard, Le regard innombrable, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. III, p. 1280, no. X-215 (illustrated in color).


    Paris, L'Hôtel de la Curiosité et des Beaux-Arts, Ière Exposition de collectionneurs, March-April 1924, no. 150.
    Paris, Galerie Seligmann, Pastels français du 18è siècle à nos jours, November-December 1933, p. 53, no. 117.
    Paris, Petit Palais, Les maîtres de l'art indépendant, 1895-1937, June-October 1937, p. 58, no. 10.
    Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs, E. Vuillard, May-July 1938, p. 28, no. 157.
    Paris, Galerie Charpentier, La vie familiale, scènes et portraits, February-April 1944, no. 145 (titled Petit garçon lisant sous la lampe).