Édouard Vuillard. Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist. 1893
Édouard Vuillard

Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist

1893
Not on view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
18 1/4 x 22 1/4" (46.3 x 56.5 cm)
Credit
Gift of Mrs. Saidie A. May
Object number
141.1934
Copyright
© 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Department
Painting and Sculpture

In this painting, Vuillard's mother and sister are depicted at home. A widow who had supported her family by running her own business, his mother commands a powerful presence. Her pose is solid and stable, her dress is the painting's largest unbroken form, and her face and hands stand out against browns and blacks, and against the extraordinary trapezoid of mottled color that describes the room's wallpaper. Her daughter, by contrast, almost disintegrates into this surface, as if its dots had temporarily organized themselves into the checkered pattern of her dress. Pressing herself awkwardly against the wall, she bends her head and shoulders, apparently greeting a visitor but also, it seems, forced to bow if she is to fit in the picture's frame.

Intimate in scale, this scene is deceptively casual. Relying on imaginative insight as well as on the direct observation prized by the Impressionists, Vuillard constructs a psychologically suggestive space: the table, the bulky chest of drawers, the overactive wallpaper, and the steeply rising perspective of the floor make a crowded container for the figures, and the claustrophobia this suggests is heightened by slightly leaning angles, an imperfectly centered composition, and the daughter's off-balance posture. The whole space seems apt to fall inward at Mme. Vuillard—a dominating, even oppressive force in the room (and, we suspect, in the family); she is also the gravitational principle that prevents a collapse.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 31

Provenance Research Project
This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
Mrs. Saidie A. May, New York. [By 1931] By 1933
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mrs. Saidie A. May, 1934

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

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Pictured above: Vasily Kandinsky. Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 2 (detail). 1914. Oil on canvas, 64 1/8 x 48 3/8" (162.6 x 122.7 cm). Nelson A. Rockefeller Fund (by exchange). © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

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In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

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