French Post-Impressionist painter
Édouard Vuillard was born on November 11, 1868, at Cuisseaux in the Saône-et-Loire department of France. When he was nine his family moved to Paris. When his father, a retired military officer, died in 1883, his mother, who came from a family of textile designers, went into the dressmaking trade to support her children. Such an environment may have awakened Vuillard's sensuous awareness of patterns and textures. He lived with his mother until her death in 1928. Vuillard was educated, like Toulouse-Lautrec, at the Lycée Condorcet in Paris, where he met Ker Xavier Roussel, who married his sister, and Maurice Denis. In 1886, Vuillard went on, with Roussel, to study painting at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts under the academic Jean-Léon Gérome. Two years later he was working with Denis, his lifelong friend Pierre Bonnard, and Paul Serusier at the Academie Julian. That year, 1888, Serusier met Gauguin at Pont-Aven in Brittany and later brought back with him a painting, The Talisman, of an entirely new type, the result of taking literally Gauguin's advice to paint in unmodulated, unshaded, unadulterated colors. Out of Serusier's enthusiasm, a group called the Nabis, after the Hebrew for "Prophets", was formed. Vuillard, Bonnard, Denis, and Roussel all became members. The Nabi painters rejected naturalism and, by implication, Impressionism, in favor of pure design and color. Art, they felt, was more important than nature. In 1891 Vuillard shared a studio with Bonnard and Denis. In the same year he contributed to the exhibition of Impressionist and Symbolist painters. Vuillard focused his attention upon the decorative element of painting, producing warm, colorful surfaces that did not attempt to give the illusion of depth. With Bonnard, Vuillard visited Hamburg in 1905, England and Holland in 1913. In 1908 he taught at an academy founded by the widow of Paul Ranson, also a Nabi. For some years Vuillard was almost completely out of the public eye, but in 1936 he showed with other former Nabis, and in 1938 a Vuillard retrospective exhibition in Paris revived interest in him. He died on June 21, 1940, at La Baule on the Brittany coast.