- Edouard Vuillard
- I) LE BANC (JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG)
- Signed E. Vuillard (lower left)
- Distemper on canvas
- 39 3/8 by 19 3/4 in.
- 100 by 50 cm
Jean Laroche, Paris (commissioned from the artist in May 1917 and returned to the artist on October 31, 1917 to be reworked)
Dr Henri Vaquez, Paris (March 1918)
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York
Edward Le Bas, London
Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London (1964)
Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York
John T. Dorrance Jr., Gladwyne, Pennsylvania (acquired from the above on July 15, 1964 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, October 18, 1989, lot 44)
Sale: Phillips, New York, May 11, 2000, lot 16
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, 1927
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Vuillard, 1948, nos. 31 & 30
Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, So this is Paris, 1950, nos. 46 & 47
London, Royal Academy of Arts, A Painter's Collection. Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture from the Collection of Edward Le Bas, R. A., 1963, nos. 133 & 125
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., Paris - London, 1964, nos. 4 & 2
Jacques Salomon, Auprès de Vuillard, Paris, 1953, p. 30
Jacques Salomon, Vuillard admiré, Paris, 1961, illustrated in colour pp. 110 & 111
Belinda Thomson, Vuillard, Oxford, 1988, pl. 110, p. 122, photograph of Vuillard's studio showing Le Kiosque in its 1917 version)
Antoine Salomon & Guy Cogeval, Vuillard. The Inexhaustible Glance. Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, Paris, 2003, vol. III, nos. X-125.2 & X-125.3, illustrated p. 1236
Throughout his career, Vuillard executed a number of large-scale decorative panels, commissioned by his friends and patrons. Le Banc and Le Kiosque are two out of the three decorative panels commissioned from the artist by the Parisian banker and collector Jean Laroche in May 1917. The concept of a series intended solely for the decoration of domestic interiors represented the perfect challenge for Vuillard in his continued experimentation with colour and pattern. As these panels were usually executed for people whose homes he had frequently visited and whose aesthetic he was familiar with, he adapted each work to the individual site and its patron. The creation of several large panels that would enliven a room, while at the same time harmonising with its imposed architecture, inspired the artist to explore unusual and increasingly dramatic perspectives.
While his early, Nabi decorations, dating from the 1890s, reflect the artist’s obsession with patterns, those executed in the twentieth century show a more Impressionistic approach both in style and subject matter. Unlike the intimate interiors that dominate his early decorative panels, the present two works exemplify his preoccupation with the city streets and squares of Paris, with its inhabitants, usually women and children, going about their daily activities. In 1908 Vuillard moved to 26 rue de Calais. From his fifth-floor apartment he had a bird’s eye view of the popular Place Vintimille and executed a number of paintings of the square with a dramatic perspective. Previously called Place Berlioz, after the statue of the composer that occupied one end of the square, Place Vintimille provided Vuillard with a constant source of inspiration (see fig. 1). Le Kiosque was painted after the artist’s move to the second-floor apartment in the same building, which offered him a more intimate view of the square and its inhabitants. Similarly, Le Banc is set in the popular Jardin du Luxembourg, and depicts Parisians enjoying a sunny afternoon in the oasis of the capital’s jardin publique. Vuillard’s achievement in the panels was in evoking a sense of intimacy and tranquillity in his city views, as well as in heightening a scene from everyday life with a strongly decorative element.
Jean Laroche became a close friend of Vuillard in the second decade of the twentieth century, and commissioned a number of works from the artist, including a portrait of himself, and several portraits of his wife Fridette. Laroche was well known as a bon vivant in Parisian circles, and wrote a cook-book illustrated with Vuillard’s lithographs. His collection included paintings by Monet, Renoir, Cézanne and Toulouse-Lautrec, many of which were donated to the Musées Nationaux, and are now at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The decorative panels he commissioned from Vuillard consisted of three parts: Le Square (see fig. 2) was probably envisaged as the central panel, with the present two works on either side. Laroche originally wanted the panels to have the violin shape (see fig. 3), in the style of eighteenth-century décor à la française, but they were later reworked to their present shape. As Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval explained:
‘On 11 July 1917, Vuillard presented Laroche with the final maquettes for the door panels, three pastel drawings that have retained their violin shape to this day. The finished panels were delivered to him on 11 September, and Vuillard received as payment the sum of 6,000 francs. But Laroche soon turned out to be unhappy with the overdoors and asked Vuillard to modify them […] Vuillard’s only wish was to have done with the panels as quickly as possible – though, in the end, he had taken a certain pleasure in reworking them. On 10 November 1917, he noted: ‘go back over the Laroche panels … enormous interest of this work. Imagination reeling, high spirits’’ (A. Salomon & G. Cogeval, op. cit., p. 1237). Once they were reworked, all three panels were acquired by Dr Vaquez, who already had a significant collection of Vuillard’s work and was one of his most important patrons. Dr Louis-Henri Vaquez was a well known and celebrated cardiologist and a professor of clinical medicine in Paris. A life-long friend and patron of Vuillard, he commissioned a number of works from the artist. In 1896, Vuillard painted four decorative panels on the theme of women and flowers in interiors, to decorate the library at Dr Vaquez’s apartment, later bequeathed to the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris.
Fig. 1, Edouard Vuillard, Le Square Berlioz, 1915-23, distemper on canvas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Fig. 2, Edouard Vuillard, Le Square, 1917-18, distemper on canvas, Private Collection, U.S.A.
Fig. 3, Edouard Vuillard, photograph of Vuillard’s studio, showing the present two works in their early version