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Portrait de Madame Delierre, dit Symphonie en rouge

Portrait de Madame Delierre, dit Symphonie en rouge
signed 'E Vuillard' (lower right)
oil on board laid down on cradled panel
23 x 25 1/2 in. (58.5 x 64.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1901
Josse Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (commissioned from the artist).
Estate of Josse Bernheim-Jeune, Paris ‌(1941 and until at least 1946).
Galerie Etienne Bignou, New York (by 1947).
Mr. and Mrs. Ralph F. Colin, New York (acquired from the above, April 1947); Estate sale, Christie's, New York, 10 May 1995, lot 26.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at the above sale.
"L'art français à l'exposition de New York," La Renaissance, no. 2, May 1939, p. 27 (illustrated; titled Femme étendue en robe rouge).
Art News, vol. 52, no. 1, March 1953, p. 25 (illustrated on the cover).
A. Chastel, "Vuillard: The Tapestry Idea," Art News Annual, 1954, p. 42 (illustrated in color; dated 1898).
"E. Vuillard," Life, no. 18, November 1954, p. 76 (illustrated in color).
"Today's Collectors: Colin and Spingold," Art News, April 1960, p. 32, no. 2.
Edouard Vuillard, exh. cat., Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 1971, p. 228, no. 12 (illustrated).
P. Ciaffa, The Portraits of Edouard Vuillard, New York, 1985, pp. 310-313.
S. Preston, Edouard Vuillard, New York, 1985, p. 84 (illustrated in color, p. 85).
A. Salomon and G. Cogeval, Vuillard: Le regard innombrable, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. II, p. 684, no. VII-293 (illustrated in color).
New York, World's Fair, Palais de la France, L'art français contemporain, summer 1939, no. 160 (illustrated).
Santa Fe, Museum of New Mexico; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; Tulsa, Philbrook Art Center; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts; Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts and Memphis, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Prewar French School of Painting in 1939, September 1945-May 1946, p. 69, no. 62 (illustrated).
New York, Galerie Etienne Bignou, A 20th Century Selection: Paintings and Sculptures, March 1947, no. 14 (titled Interior with Figure).
Northampton, Smith College Museum of Art, Works of Art Belonging to Alumnae, May-June 1950, p. 20, no. 36.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Selections from Five New York Private Collections, summer 1951.
New York, Paul Rosenberg & Co., Inc., Collector's Choice, March-April 1953, p. 24, no. 6 (illustrated, p. 25).
The Cleveland Museum of Art and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Edouard Vuillard, January-June 1954, p. 101 (illustrated in color, p. 28).
New York, M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., The Colin Collection, April-May 1960, no. 15 (illustrated).
New York, Public Education Association, Seven Decades, 1895-1965: Crosscurrents in Modern Art, April-May 1966, no. 29 (illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

In April 1900, Vuillard submitted eleven paintings to a Nabi exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune at 8 rue Lafitte in Paris. The Nabis, a group of avant-garde French artists including Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Paul Sérusier and Vuillard, embraced bold, expressive color and flat ornamental patterns in their paintings. Following that ground-breaking exhibition, Vuillard signed a twelve year contract with Bernheim-Jeune, assuring the artist an extended period of financial stability but also creative freedom. It was probably soon thereafter that Josse Bernheim-Jeune, scion of the eponymous gallery, commissioned Vuillard to paint the portrait of his married mistress. Vuillard produced a series of drawn and painted studies before completing the final likeness: the present work.
In this portrait, Vuillard depicted Madame Delierre reclining casually upon an upholstered canapé. The intimate room is plush with patterned textiles in burgundy red and forest green, its fuchsia walls are hung with gold-framed artworks. The boldest passage in the painting, however, is Madame Delierre’s crimson gown, trimmed with a thick border of white—perhaps fur, feathers or lace. The informality of her dress is underscored by the loose arrangement of her dark brown hair, which has been twisted into a towering chignon at the crown of her head. Though she is fully dressed and clearly situated in the context of a bourgeois European interior, Madame Delierre exudes the confidence and sensuality of a semi-nude odalisque. As Stuart Preston mused: “One would like to know more about this attractive dusky lady who sits stiffly yet seductively, wrapped in a loose scarlet dressing gown edged with marabou. There is something saucy, too, in the warm redness of the walls… We remain perplexed by the lady who so easily dominates her exotic surroundings” (S. Preston, op. cit., p. 84).
During this pivotal phase of his career, Vuillard developed a reputation as an intimiste—admired as much for his harmonious arrangements of color and pattern as for his depictions of bourgeois women in cozy domestic spaces. Portrait de Madame Delierre, dit Symphonie en rouge exemplifies the artist’s approach towards representing the female body enmeshed in space. Vuillard almost always selected as models women within his own private social circle, whether his own mother and sister or the wives and lovers of his colleagues in the Parisian art world. According to Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, there is an inscription on the verso of this painting, now obscured by the cradled panel, that identifies the subject of this work, Madame Delierre, as a “friend” of Vuillard’s former classmate Jacques Lebaudy and of Josse Benheim-Jeune; the inscription also identifies the latter as the source of the portrait commission. Though it obscures the romantic nature of Delierre’s relationship with Bernheim-Jeune, this handwritten text firmly situates the subject of the portrait within Vuillard’s personal sphere.
Nearly five decades after its execution, Portrait de Madame Delierre, dit Symphonie en rouge entered the esteemed New York collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph T. Colin in April 1947. Ralph Colin was a founder of the Art Dealers' Association of America and served a trustee of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, until his death in 1985. Following his widow’s death nine years later, the Colin collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures was sold at Christie’s. The present painting was acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at that sale in May 1995.

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