New Acquisition: Vuillard Family by Édouard Vuillard

Hugh Lane Gallery acquires important painting Vuillard Family by Édouard Vuillard

We are delighted to announce the new acquisition. Vuillard Family is a rare work in the artist’s family series as it includes his self portrait along with his mother Madame Vuillard and sister Marie.


Previously in a private collection, Vuillard Family was never exhibited during the artist’s lifetime making it an even more desirable acquisition. Born in 1868 in Cuiseaux, France, Édouard Vuillard is regarded as one of the most innovative painters and printmakers of the modern period.

A member of Les Nabis, or ‘prophets’ in Hebrew, a Symbolist group of painters Vuillard joined artists including  Maurice Denis and Pierre Bonnard in their radical experiments with colour, perspective and patterning.  He also experimented with photography in the 1890s using the newly invented Kodak camera.  Vuillard is renowned for his depictions of intimate interior domestic scenes many of which feature his own family including Vuillard Family painted between 1902 and 1904.

The complex relationship between Vuillard and his mother is documented in many paintings by the artist. For many years, Vuillard, his mother and his sister shared modest rented apartments in Paris, where the artist’s bedroom doubled as a studio and from which his mother ran a sewing business, employing  his sister Marie.

The three figures occupy the entire painting. The artist himself looks on from the left with his sister Marie at the centre.  Madame Vuillard, usually a dominant presence in these family scenes, is here depicted as shadowy figure on the right.

The figures and the space they occupy are sketchily painted. The artist and his mother are created in typically muted tones, while the pink of Marie’s dress and cheeks provides contrast. A suggestion of a window or reflection in a mirror is the only relief in this claustrophobic setting.   Despite it scale, it is a work of psychological power, built on hints and suggestion. Memory and symbolism in Vuillard’s paintings have been connected to Proust’s novels both conveying the disappearing lifestyle of fin de siècle Paris.

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    Vuillard Family joins another Vuillard painting in the gallery’s collection, , which was purchased by Hugh Lane in Paris in 1905.  A combination of an interior scene and a still-life, it further emphasises Vuillard’s experimental use of pattern and decoration in his work. La Chimineé is now part of the Sir Hugh Lane Bequest shared with the National Gallery London.

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Francis Bacon Studio Perry Ogden 1998