Lucie Hessel by Édouard Vuillard - ca. 1924 - 88 x 67,9 cm private collection Lucie Hessel by Édouard Vuillard - ca. 1924 - 88 x 67,9 cm private collection

Lucie Hessel

oil on canvas • 88 x 67,9 cm
  • Édouard Vuillard - 11 November 1868 - 21 June 1940 Édouard Vuillard ca. 1924

Édouard Vuillard was a French painter and a founding member of the art  movement Les Nabis. Although he was educated at the prestigious Académie Julian and then at the École des Beaux-Arts, Vuillard preferred a naturalistic approach to color and his works were defined by simplified shapes. Vuillard did not share the rigid approach of his formal art education and found it to be stifling. His artistic style resulted in a fabric or tapestry-like quality, perhaps an unsurprising consequence of his upbringing as his mother was a seamstress.

A lot is known about Vuillard's perspective and fascinating life due to his meticulous journal-keeping, a practice he kept up with until his demise. He was best known for his renderings of domestic scenes and his paintings have an intimate quality while maintaining the perspective of an outsider.

In this painting however, there is a sense of intimacy and closeness between the artist and the sitter. The subject here is Lucie Hessel, the wife of Vuillard's Swiss art dealer, Jos Hessel. Vuillard was mesmerized by Lucie and utterly devoted to her. She played the role of both his benefactor and his muse, and she featured in over a hundred of his paintings. Lucie was often pictured in luxurious and relaxed settings, such as this one. Pictured behind Lucie, is her husband Jos who appears engaged in reading, detached from this moment.

Lucie and Vuillard maintained a close relationship throughout his life. Vuillard dined with the Hessels every evening and they even vacationed together. Lucie was his confidante and his advisor and would also become his lover. It is believed that their relationship came to be accepted by Jos. Vuillard passed away in 1940 in La Baule, near Saint-Nazaire, while making his way to Hessel's seaside home.

- Maya Tola

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P.P.S. Here you can read about women that inspired Vuillard!