Decorative domestics : the interior paintings of Edouard Vuillard
Charmelo, Julie Anne
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Through an examination of the domestic interior intimist paintings of Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940), a comparison has been initiated, in terms of style and subject matter, between his genre scenes and different modes of textile work. This analogy is grounded in the feet that Madame Vuillard, Edouard?s mother, was a professional seamstress who worked out of the small Parisian apartments that she and Vuillard shared, apartments that familiarized Vuillard with textiles and methods of sewing, items and processes that he would come to appreciate, learn and often reference in his paintings. Considering Vuillard?s domestic imagery as characteristically distinct, one is able to divide his canvases into separate categories: images of women sewing and various other genre scenes. I begin by exploring the influence of Japanese artistic traditions on Vuillard, particularly the genre subject, and furthermore the preference for seamstress imagery. Vuillard?s affiliation with the Synthetist movement confirms his influence by these Eastern models, and in Vuillard?s seamstress paintings, decoration and patterning exaggerate the material environment that surrounds these women, evoking the silent nature of the act of sewing and the physical and psychological demands it puts on those who sew. Ornamentation in his other paintings of apartment interiors serves as a visual means to evoke comfort and the restful state that these interiors and the adorning domestic textiles provide. Viewing Vuillard's works as extensively patterned compositions, one is able to trace these patterns as distinct elements within an overall design, fragmented from one plane to another. Through examining these modes of decorative ornamentation in the paintings of Edouard Vuillard, a comparison to textile design and methods of textile work reveals itself, reflective of the nostalgic occurrences that surrounded Vuillard daily. This notion of nostalgia and fragmented memory brings to mind Marcel Proust?s novel Remembrance of Things Past, where Proust asserts that memories are sparked by looking at or experiencing the familiar. Vuillard similarly chose to document scenes and occurrences that were familiar to him, and we eventually realize that his genre scenes are fragmented memories of daily processes that revolved around familiar textile techniques, patterns and patrons.