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Prince Emmanuel Bibesco, Paris (acquis auprès de l'artiste, vers 1900).
Prince Antoine Bibesco, Paris (par descendance).
Edouard Vuillard, Paris (acquis auprès de celui-ci, octobre 1918).
Pierre Roussel, L'Etang-la-Ville (par descendance).
Galerie Bellier, Paris (acquis auprès de celui-ci, 1983).
Acquis auprès de celle-ci par Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé.
A. Segard, Peintres d'aujourd'hui. Les décorateurs, Paris, 1914, vol. II, p. 286.
G. Besson, La peinture française au XXeme siècle, Paris, 1949, vol. I, fig. 21 (illustré; titré 'Panneau décoratif').
J. Wilson Bareau, "Edouard Vuillard et les princes Bibesco", in Revue de l'Art, no. 74, 1986, pp. 39, 43 et 46 (illustré, figs. 18-19).
G. Groom, Edouard Vuillard: Painter-Decorator. Patrons and Projects 1892-1912, Milan, 1993, pp. 139, 150-153, 156, 158 et 163-164 (illustré, figs. 238 et 240).
A. Salomon et G. Cogeval, Vuillard, le regard innombrable: Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. I, p. 522, no. VI-102 (illustré en couleur).
Essen, Neo-Impressionisten, février-avril 1905, no. 109.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Vuillard, panneaux décoratifs, pastels, portraits, peintures à l'huile, février 1908, no. 3.
Saint-Tropez, Musée de l'Annonciade, Misia, juillet-octobre 1996, p. 67 (illustré en couleur; titré 'Misia dans son jardin'; daté 'vers 1898').
Florence, Palazzo Corsini et Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Le Temps des Nabis, mars-novembre 1998, p. 194, no. 101 (illustré en couleur, p. 137).
Post Lot Text
'THE LILACS'; WITH THE ATELIER STAMP LOWER RIGHT; PEINTURE A LA COLLE ON CANVAS.
Les Lilas belongs to the cycle of great decorative works painted by the Nabi artist throughout his career. Created during the winter of 1899-1900, Les Lilas was acquired around 1900 by Prince Emmanuel Bibesco. In 1908 it was returned to Vuillard for reworking, perhaps to harmonise it with two other paintings, L'Allée (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) and La Meule (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon), commissioned by the Prince in 1907. The three works were presented under the title Panneaux décoratifs during Vuillard's first personal exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1908.
Les Lilas underwent significant revision by the painter in 1908. In the original version the Swiss painter Félix Vallotton can be seen in the background at left, while standing to the right in the foreground is Misia, wife of Thadée Natanson, the founder of La Revue Blanche. Misia was pervasive in the work of the artist at this time, appearing in most of his great decorative panels. Vuillard was a close friend of this couple who played such a major role in the history of French symbolism. For whatever reason, Vuillard later removed the figure of his Helvetian friend and replaced it with two indistinct characters. Nonetheless, he retains the appearance of the elegant Misia, immediately recognisable from the loose-fitting checked dress she is seen wearing in other well known works by the artist, including Misia et Vallotton à Villeneuve of 1899 (Salomon and Cogeval, no. VI-71).
Although it has Art Nouveau overtones, the style of this decorative panel reveals clear traces of impressionist influence. The painter freely expresses his feeling for nature, rendering the profusion of golden petals with coloured strokes lingering in the undergrowth. The three figures literally blend into a tapestry of plants and flowers. Seemingly engaged in a game of hide-and-seek, we glimpse their bodies in mid-flight, showing Vuillard's interest in the immediacy of photography. Through its entertaining and highly decorative character, this work echoes the large-scale compositions created during the same period by Maurice Denis, including Jeu de volant (Musée d'Orsay, Paris), which depicts diaphanous figures frolicking in an idealised natural setting, a sort of arcadia.
Vuillard, on the other hand, rejects symbolism for a realism that draws on his observation of the intimate world of family life. Here, he brings us a work that demonstrates the uniqueness of his artistic temperament, the subjects close to his heart, as well as an ability to envisage painting as an ornamental element capable of evoking different atmospheres. In the years that followed, Vuillard would create other important decorative compositions, sometimes related to modern architecture as in the case of the decorative panels in the Bar de la Comédie at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.