This small book about Edouard Vuillard, 1868-1940, was originally published in French and this translation by Charles Lynn Clark appeared in 1989, one in a series of Masters in Art volumes. In addition to the essay and illustrations, the book contains a Short Bibliography, List of Illustrations and an illustrated Chronology. The illustration on the front cover is a detail from "Under the Trees", c. 1892. There are 60 illustrations including 34 in colour.
In the second half of the book, Makarius provides information about the artist's friends and his circle, including Thadée and Alexandre Natanson, Misia Natanson, The Revue Blanche, The Nabis, Aurélien Lugné-Poe, Proust, Mallarmé and Jos and Lucie Hessels, who are discussed in the text.
Vuillard, who never married and had no children, was one of the greatest painters of children. Many of his works show his niece, Annette, "Ker-Xavier Roussel and his Daughter Annette", 1903, as well as individuals, "Portrait of Claude Bernheim", 1906, and children in general, "Public Gardens cycle", 1894, and "Child on a Carpet", 1901. With the exception of children, the artist only painted women, his mother, female friends and relations and Misia Natanson, the wife of the art critic, Thadée Natanson, and the artist's muse, "Misia and Thadée Natanson", c. 1897, "Misia in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne", 1897, and "Misia Playing the Piano, Cipa Listening", c. 1898.
The artist's grandfather and an uncle were fabric designers, whilst his mother, with whom he lived until her death in 1928, was a dressmaker. Little wonder then that the designs of wallpaper and carpets take on such importance in Vuillard's work, "The Studio", 1893, The Roussel Family, c. 1895, "Figures and Interiors cycle", 1896, Misia and Thadée Natanson, c. 1897, "The Red Robe", c. 1898, and "Mother and Child", c. 1899. Later, his style changed by the furnishings still took centre stage, "The Drawing Room", 1926.
In many cases the design of a woman's dress interacts so closely with the interior furnishings that the figure is enveloped in the overall pattern and, often, is difficult to disentangle, "Mother and Child", c. 1899, and the same can be true in the garden, "Woman in a Striped Dress", 1895, and "Woman Sitting in a Garden", 1898. Women are shown going about their household duties, "The Darner", 1891, "The Table is Set", 1892, "The Study", 1893, "Three Women in an Interior with a Pink Tapestry", 1895, and "The Lunch", 1895-97.
Together with other artists of the period, Vuillard was influenced by Far Eastern art and Japanese prints, in his vertical formats, the low angles of vision, as in "The Darner", 1891.
The author admits that, between the two Wars, the artist settled into a period of conservatism, as did Derain. Vuillard painted a series of portraits and genre figures of the bourgeoisie, "The Drawing Room", 1926, and "Mme Gilou at Home", 1932, to the disappointment of his former friends and colleagues.
The book has a glued spine and must be opened carefully to examine works that extend over two facing pages, as in "Figures and Interiors cycle", 1896, "Three Women in an Interior with a Pink Tapestry", 1895, "The Roussel Family", 1895, and the "Public Gardens cycle", 1894.
The author makes a good case for the quality of Vuillard's work between 1890-1910.