Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller
Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

La malade lisant

Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940)
La malade lisant
signed with initials and dated 'E.V. 95' (lower left)
oil on board
8 3/8 x 11 ½ in. (21.4 x 29.2 cm.)
Painted in 1895
Milo Beretta, Montevideo (probably acquired from the artist, 1935).
Jacques Helft, New York.
Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York (acquired from the above, November 1955).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, November 1956.
A. Salomon and G. Cogeval, Vuillard, Le regard innombrable, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. I, pp. 320-321, no. IV-162 (illustrated; dated 1894).
M. Potter et al., The David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: European Works of Art, New York, 1984, vol. I, p. 213, no. 72 (illustrated).
Montevideo, Amigos del arte, Pintura moderna europea, September 1935, no. 73.
Montevideo, Galeri´a E. Berro, Milo Beretta (1881-1935), Su pintura, su coleccio´n, July 1946, no. 24 (illustrated).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is a lot where Christie’s holds a direct financial guarantee interest.

Brought to you by

General Enquiries
General Enquiries

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

Between 1891 and 1895, Vuillard explored the theme of a woman sleeping or resting in bed in more than twenty intimiste oils, pastels, and drawings. Depicting the model nestled comfortably under layers of eiderdown quilts, with only her head and shoulders visible, these images intentionally subvert the traditional erotic connotations of the boudoir in the artistic canon, instead presenting the woman’s bed as a site for private relaxation and recovery. In several of the pictures, Vuillard captured his model in deep sleep, a favorite Symbolist theme. “Sleep is the preferred stalking-ground of Symbolism,” Guy Cogeval has noted, “with its propensity to dream, and the bed is its nodal point” (op. cit., 2003, p. 143). Elsewhere in Vuillard’s oeuvre, the recumbent woman convalesces from illness, a second figure keeping vigil at her bedside. In the present painting, by contrast, she is fully alert, propped partially upright against a pillow, absorbed in a book that she rests on her chest.
The model for many of these works, including the present canvas, was Vuillard’s older sister Marie, who lived in the family home at 346, rue Saint-Honoré with the artist, their mother, and until her death in 1893 their grandmère Michaud as well. That same year, Marie married the painter Ker-Xavier Roussel, a dear friend of Vuillard, and he joined the close quarters of the household, carrying on an affair all the while with the sister-in-law of yet another Nabi artist, Paul Ranson. Marie struggled throughout these years with pregnancy complications, ailments such as the mumps, and bouts of depression, which left her confined to bed at intervals. Here, however, she shows no evident sign of illness; the chair at the foot of her bed, where her mother sits in a related painting, is empty now, and the flush of color on her cheeks suggests the return of good health (Salomon and Cogeval, no. IV-161; Musée Picasso, Paris).
Vuillard’s principal interest in this intimate domestic scene is to convey a mood of private, self-contained interiority. Marie’s facial features are blurred, suggesting that her thoughts are turned inward, and her form blends into the background. The bed extends almost the full width of the canvas, locked into a grid of horizontals and verticals. The result is not to create a sense of confinement, however, but rather to embrace and protect Marie, as though the room itself were holding her close. Her knees are raised beneath the richly patterned coverlet, creating a free and sinuous arabesque, and the dominant gold tone of the painting, heightened with deep red, exudes a quiet radiance. “The interior was for Vuillard,” Elizabeth Easton has concluded, “a potential metaphor for himself—an inner space, self-controlled and cut off from the world, but rife with possibilities” (The Intimate Interiors of Edouard Vuillard, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1989, p. 4).

"To me this little picture typifies the many Vuillard interiors where the human subject often fades indistinguishably into its surroundings. Indeed, one has to look very carefully to find the bed and the lady in it, which only adds to the painting's charm." —David Rockefeller

More from The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller: Fine Art, Day Sale

View All
View All