• Impressionist/Modern Evening S auction at Christies

    Sale 7831

    Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

    2 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 4

    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

    Intérieur aux rocking-chairs

    Price Realised  


    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
    Intérieur aux rocking-chairs
    signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right)
    oil on board mounted on cradled panel
    26 1/8 x 21¼ in. (66.2 x 54 cm.)
    Painted in 1902

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    Intérieur aux rocking-chairs was painted in the summer of 1902 and shows Edouard Vuillard capturing one of his favourite subjects: Lucy Hessel. She is shown here in her villa Les Étincelles, reading, absorbed within the opulent decoration of the interior itself. At the time that this picture was painted, Vuillard was staying nearby in La Myosotis, a villa rented out by his friend and fellow artist Ker-Xavier Roussel and his family. It is a tribute to the quality of this picture that it was formerly in the celebrated collection of Albert Pra which featured a range of artists including Corot, Degas, Monet and Toulouse-Lautrec; many of the other works offered alongside Intérieur aux rocking-chairs in his posthumous 1938 sale now grace the walls of museums throughout the world.

    The subject and the composition of Intérieur aux rocking-chairs convey that atmosphere of intimisme that was so central to Vuillard's earlier Nabi pictures, while also hinting at the incredible closeness between the artist and his subject. This deliberate atmosphere of informality recalls the spontaneity of photography, which fascinated Vuillard (he had acquired his first Kodak only five years earlier). And crucially, it also lends the picture a sense of emotional truth, making it a snapshot into the artist's mind, life and feelings.
    The sense of space that he has deliberately conveyed in Intérieur aux rocking-chairs was the result of a recent change in his paintings. For it was only in the previous few years that Vuillard had abandoned the Synthetist style of the Nabis, with its deliberate emphasis on the two-dimensional picture plane, and, in part inspired by the landscapes which he had recently begun to paint, introduced space into his pictures. In Intérieur aux rocking-chairs, Vuillard has emphasised this by including a range of perspectival effects such as the ceiling beams, themselves continued in their reflection in the mirror, and the diagonal of the top of the wall on the right. These all conspire to accentuate the distance between the painter and his subject, allowing her to be almost consumed by her surroundings, not least through the dense decorative pattern of the wallpaper. This perfectly conveys the sense of Vuillard's own statement that, 'I don't paint portraits, I paint people in their homes' (Vuillard, quoted in G. Cogeval (ed.), Édouard Vuillard, exh. cat., Washington, D.C., 2003, p. 356).

    It was only around 1900 that Vuillard's friendship with Lucy Hessel, who quickly became his greatest companion, confidante, model and muse, had sprung up. This was largely through her husband, Joseph, who was a partner at Bernheim-Jeune, who had recently become Vuillard's dealers. Lucy and Vuillard became almost inseparable within a very short time, enjoying an intense relationship. Intérieur aux rocking-chairs is a very touching spontaneous memento providing us with a fascinating glimpse into the beginning of this friendship.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (no. 12705), by whom acquired from the artist in October 1902.
    Paul Cassirer, Berlin, by whom acquired in February 1903.
    Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by whom re-acquired in December 1904.
    Galerie Druet, Paris, by whom acquired in October 1905.
    Eugène Blot, Paris; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 10 May 1906, lot 84.
    Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris.
    Albert Pra, Paris; sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 17 June 1938, lot 54.
    Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owners, and thence by descent.

    Pre-Lot Text



    C. Roger-Marx, Vuillard et son temps, Paris, 1946, p. 77.
    C. Roger-Marx, Vuillard, Paris, 1948, p. 56.
    A. Salomon & G. Cogeval, Vuillard, The Inexhaustible Glance, Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, vol. II, Paris, 2003, no. VIII-60 (illustrated p. 861).


    London, Marlborough Fine Art, Roussel, Bonnard, Vuillard, May - June 1954, no. 67.
    Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Paris 1900, July - September 1954, no. 1098.
    Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Edouard Vuillard, July - September 1960, no. 79.
    Paris, Durand-Ruel, Edouard Vuillard, May - September 1961, no. 47 (illustrated, dated '1909').
    Hamburg, Kunstverein, Vuillard. Gemälde, Pastelle, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik, June - July 1964, no. 59 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Frankfurt, Kunstverein, August - September 1964 and Zurich, Kunsthaus, September - October 1964.