Femme dans un intérieur (1935)

Vuillard, Édouard (1868-1940)

Femme dans un intérieur (Woman in an Interior, Madame Hessel at Les Clayes)
Oil on paper, 40.9 x 55.7 cm
Princeton University Art MuseumPrinceton

This intimate work was painted, according to Vuillard’s journal, on Easter morning in 1935, and shows the dining room at the country house called Les Clayes, with Lucy Hessel—wife of Vuillard’s salesman, Jos Hessel, and the artist’s muse, confidante, and mistress—by the window. On the fireplace mantel, a vase filled with forsythia branches brings the spring day indoors; it reflects Mme Hessel’s presence, since she was known for her floral arrangements. The room is suffused with golden light from the French window. Vuillard was Catholic, and something of the spiritual renewal of Easter, as well as the comfort of Lucy Hessel’s presence, can be felt in this luminous interior view, which differs so profoundly from his darker, more claustrophobic youthful works. (PUAM)