• Impressionist/Modern Day Sale auction at Christies

    Sale 7833

    Impressionist/Modern Day Sale

    3 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 410

    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

    Lucie Hessel lisant

    Price Realised  


    Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
    Lucie Hessel lisant
    signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right)
    oil on canvas
    39 3/8 x 32 5/8 in. (100 x 82.9 cm.)
    Painted in 1913

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    Painted in 1913, Lucy Hessel lisant is filled with the atmosphere of intimisme for which Vuillard remains so celebrated. This is in a large part due to the subject matter: the sitter in this picture is Lucy Hessel, who since the turn of the century had been Vuillard's companion, closest friend, model and muse, appearing in many of his pictures. Here, she is shown at a table in a room with a bed in the background; a succession of layers is evoked by the rest of the room and then the mirror, in which an outdoor scene is reflected, a small picture-within-a-picture that introduces a flash of lush colour and recalls the paintings of Henri Matisse. It is a mark of the artist's own satisfaction with this work that he exhibited it the same year that it was painted.

    Lucy Hessel was the wife of Jos Hessel, the first owner of this picture, who was one of the partners in the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Vuillard's dealers. From 1900 onwards, Vuillard would spend a great deal of his time with the Hessels, be it in Paris or on various travels both within France and abroad. The closeness of the artist's relationship to Lucy is clear in this picture, not least through the striking fact that it clearly shows her in a bedroom, a private domain into which she has invited the artist and, by extension, the viewer. Lucy Hessel lisant, then, provides a glimpse into their lives, an intimate and informal moment immortalised by Vuillard for posterity. In this sense, Lucy Hessel lisant is a form of highly-finished, painterly snapshot. Indeed, Vuillard was heavily influenced by and interested in photography. In his oils, he tapped into that same feeling of spontaneity captured in photos, taking his cues even in terms of compositions which he deliberately made to appear as though they were the product of a moment, rather than any forethought, adding a strong and intensely novel veracity, as is clearly evidenced by Lucy Hessel lisant.

    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.


    Jos Hessel, Paris, circa 1913.
    Marcel Hendricks-Masurel, Paris.
    Anonymous sale, Palais Galliera, Paris, 30 May 1967, lot 71.
    Acquired at the above sale by the father of the present owner, and thence by descent.

    Pre-Lot Text



    A. Salomon & G. Cogeval, Vuillard, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, vol. II, Paris, 2003, no. VIII-416 (illustrated p. 1017).


    Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Vuillard, Oeuvres récentes (Panneaux décoratifs et tableaux), December 1913, no. 17.
    Munich, Haus der Kunst, Édouard Vuillard, K.-X. Roussel, March - May 1968, no. 125 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries.