Calendar: November 11

A Year: Day to Day Men: 11th of November

Natural State of the Wilderness

November 11, 1868 was the birthdate of French painter Jean-Édouard Vuillard.

Jean-Édouard Vuillard was born in Cuiseaux, France, where he spent his youth until his family in 1878 moved to Paris. At the age of sixteen, he received a scholarship to continue his education. Vuillard attended the Lycée Condorcet, one of the four oldest high schools in Paris and the most prestigious. There he met Ker Xavier Roussel, a fellow artist who became a friend, Maurice Denis, the musician Pierre Hermant, and the writer Pierre Verber.

Vuillard left the Lycée Condorcet in 1885, and on the advice of his closest friend Roussel, he refused military service; he then joined Roussel at the studio of painter Diogene Maillart to study painting. Vuillard studied also at both the Académie Julian and the L’École des Beaux-Arts in the period between 1886 and 1888.

In 1890, after meeting the avant-garde painters Pierre Bonnard and Paul Sérusier, Vuillard joined Les Nabis, a group of art students inspired by the synthetism of Henri Paul Gauguin. Vuillard contributed to the exhibitions of the group and shared a studio with Bonnard and Maurice Denis, whose later work was associated with the Symbolist movement.

After traveling around Europe and painting, Vuillard had his first exhibition at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1901 and, two years later, had an exhibition at the first annual Salon d’Automne in Paris. This massive exhibition was a reaction against the conservative policies of the official Paris Salon and received wide support from artists such as Renoir, Matisse, and Auguste Rodin. After this Vuillard received many commissions for his paintings and graphics.

Jean-Édouard Vuillard painted his first decorative frescoes for the house of Mme Desmarais in 1892. He later fulfilled many other commissions of this kind, leading up to more prominent works; the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1913; the Palais de Chailot in Paris, which he executed with Pierre Bonnard in 1937; and in 1939 the Palais des Nations in Geneva, working with fellow artists Roussel, Denis, and Chastel.

On November 13, 2017, “Misia et Vallotton à Villeneuve” painted in 1899 became the most valuable Vuillard sold at auction when it achieved $17.75 million at Christie’s. It is now in a private collection.

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