Arts Everyday Living: Dreaming of Flowers—Could They Be Chrysanthemums?

Edouard Vuillard, Woman in a Striped Dress, 1895, oil on canvas, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.


Title: Woman in a Striped Dress

Artist: Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

Edouard Vuillard  was a master of dream-like interiors, often set in his seamstress mother’s home. Composed of designs, patterns and colors that almost mesmerize us, sometimes distinctive like the stripes of the woman’s flowing blouse, or vague, impressionistic patches of brushstrokes in the background as well as foreground. Even the leaves and plants in the center form a lush, amorphous mass.  Yet, the white, dark blue, and maroon flowers….could they be chrysanthemums?….stand out like the arranger who bends over them composing her own work of art.

The model might be Misia Godebska Natanson, a professional pianist and like her husband Thadee who commissioned the painting, was a promoter of the arts. Vuillard belonged to the Nabis, an artistic group that the couple patronized. Unlike their predecessors the Impressionists, the Nabis (derived from a Hebrew term meaning prophet) found their source of inspiration not in nature but from the spirit and imagination of the individual artist.




In the public domain, courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

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