Edouard Vuillard: La Fenêtre ouverte [The Open Window] about 1902 - 1903, reworked 1915
This room is part of the apartment Vuillard shared with his mother at 28 rue Truffaut, Paris. The woman seen on the left of this painting is the artist’s mother, who ran a corset-making business from home. Vuillards’s painting is a study of the relationship between indoor and outdoor light. Much like the Impressionist painters who worked some years prior to the date of this painting, Vuillard was particularly interested on the effect of light on colour. The tonal quality of this scene and the dappled brushstrokes make the painting less flat and more decorative than earlier work.
Édouard Vuillard, the son of a retired captain, spent his youth at Cuiseaux (Saône-et-Loire); in 1878 his family moved to Paris. After his father's death, in 1884, Vuillard received a scholarchip to continue his education. In the Lycée Condorcet Vuillard met Ker Xavier Roussel (also a future painter and Vuillard's future brother in law), Maurice Denis and Lugné-Poë. On Roussel's advice he refused from the military career and entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In the Ecole he met Pierre Bonnard.
In October 1888, Vuillard joined the Nabis and contributed to their exhibitions at the Gallery of Le Barc de Boutteville. Later he shared a studio with other fellow member of the Nabis, Pierre Bonnard and Maurice Denis. In the early 1890s he worked for the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre of Lugné-Poë designing settings and programs.
In 1898 Vuillard visited Venice and Florence. The following year he made a trip to London. Later he went to Milan, Venice and Spain. Vuillard also traveled in Brittany and Normandy.
Vuillard first exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants of 1901 and at the Salon d'Automne in 1903.
In the 1890s Vuillard met the brothers Alexandre and Thadée Natanson, the founders of the Revue Blanche, and in 1892 did on their advice his first decorations ("apartment frescoes") for the house of Mme Desmarais. Subsequently he fulfilled many other commissions of this kind: in 1894 for Alexandre Natanson, in 1898 for Claude Anet, in 1908 for Bernstein, and in 1913 for Bernheim and for the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. The last commissions he received date to 1937 (Palais de Chaillot in Paris, with Bonnard) and 1939 (Palais des Nations in Geneva, with Denis, Roussel and Chastel).
In his paintings and decorative pieces Vuillard depicted mostly the interiors, streets and gardens. Marked by a gentle humor, they are executed in the delicate range on soft, blurred colors characteristic of his art.