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Jeanne Louise Guérin

Jeanne Louise Guérin
signed 'E. Vuillard' (lower right)
peinture à la colle on paper laid down on canvas
70 1⁄4 x 48 in. (178.5 x 122 cm.)
Painted in 1916-1917
Jeanne Louise Guérin, Paris (commissioned from the artist, April 1916).
Jos Hessel, Paris (by 1929 until at least 1936).
Raphaël Gérard, Paris (circa 1938).
Mme de Montheu, Paris.
E. and A. Silberman Galleries, New York (by 1957).
Nathan Cummings, New York (by 1965).
Bequest from the above to the present owner, 1986.
A. Salomon and G. Cogeval, Vuillard, Le regard innombrable: Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. III, p. 1277, no. X-212 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Edouard Vuillard, May-July 1938, no. 156 (titled Portrait de femme debout devant sa table à coiffer, un chien auprès d'elle).
New York, E. and A. Silberman Galleries, Art Unites Nations, December 1957, no. 22 (illustrated; dated 1913).
Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Davenport Municipal Art Gallery, Paintings from the Cummings Collection, January-April 1965 (illustrated).
The Art Institute of Chicago, Major Works from the Collection of Nathan Cummings, October-December 1973, pp. 34-35, no. 25 (illustrated; dated 1913).
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Lot Essay

Vuillard, among the premier portraitists of the early twentieth century, began painting the likeness of Jeanne Louise Guérin, an entrepreneurial French socialite, in 1916. Though executed on a large scale, this portrait is a strikingly informal one. Guérin is depicted wearing a silk blouse, long brown skirt and a simple strand of pearls, standing in her private sitting room. This intimate space is a rich tapestry of patterns, from the embroidered curtains and floral wallpaper to the subject’s silk blouse. Guérin stands in front of a mirrored armoire, the surface of which reflects the rest of the sitting room—elegant upholstered chairs, a fireplace and a stylish glass chandelier. With one hand, Guérin draws open a curtain, allowing sunlight to flood the room; she casually rests her other hand on her hip. Before her is her dressing table, covered in pretty bibelots: a porcelain powder box and matching hair brush, as well as a handful of colorful flower petals.
Vuillard represented Guérin as the confident mistress of her domestic interior, with her fluffy white dog seated faithfully by her side. His collaboration with Guérin was not entirely without conflict, however; Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, the authors of the Vuillard catalogue raisonné, record an angry letter from Guérin to the artist in October 1916, after he failed to attend a scheduled posing session. Indeed, Guérin must have been a very demanding patron. She commissioned her portrait from Vuillard in April 1916, the same year that she acquired the famed D’Orsay perfumery, originally founded in Paris in 1830. Within the next 20 years, Guérin single-handedly transformed the once floundering parfumerie into a profitable luxury business, which became renowned for its exquisite Art Deco bottles and advertising campaigns designed by Jean Cocteau and Marie Laurencin. After the conclusion of World War I, Guérin oversaw the construction of a new bottle factory and opened D’Orsay boutiques on the fashionable rue de la Paix in Paris and Fifth Avenue in New York City. According to Salomon and Cogeval, Guérin was also romantically involved with the wealthy founder of the Raoul shoe company, Gaston Monteux—forming an early twentieth-century power couple.
This commanding portrait of Jeanne Louise Guérin was featured in the 1938 Vuillard retrospective exhibition held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It subsequently passed through several esteemed collections over the course of the twentieth century. In 1986, this work entered the Art Institute of Chicago through a major bequest from the philanthropist Nathan Cummings. His significant collection included works by modern masters such as Edgar Degas, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, in addition to Vuillard.

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