Edouard Vuillard
(Cuiseaux, Saône-et-Loire, 1868-1940, La Baule)
The Salon Natanson, rue St-Florentin, ca. 1897/98
Oil on paper on wood, 45.5 x 51.5 cm
Signed upper left: E. Vuillard
Salomon/Cogeval VI-39
We are in the Rue Saint-Florentin in the Salon of Thadée Natanson, the "brain" of the "Revue Blanche". He himself sits with his head resting on his hand in the background, while in front, schematically suggested, appears his wife Misia, the pianist; the third figure on the right side of the picture could be the writer Romain Coolus. This Salon was the meeting-place of the Nabis during the 1890s and the scene of many paintings done there. With such paintings, the approximately thirty-year-old Vuillard is already at the height of his powers. This interior does not tell much to the curious observer, because it is more an elevation view of a wall than a room and because everything is plunged in a blurred twilight, even the persons in the foreground. The only thing that is illuminated is the unreal-seeming reflection in the mirror of the opposite wall with the bright oil lamp and the colourful wall-paper. The green-gold texture of the picture recalls old brocades, and the symmetrical composition with the light source in the centre invests it with a sacral quality.