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Vuillard, Edouard (1868-1940)
by Scholes, Robert

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Edouard Vuillard (1868 - 1940)

He was born at Cuisseaux in France. When he was nine his family moved to Paris. His father, a retired military officer, died in 1883. His mother who came from a family of textile designers, went into the dressmaking trade to support her children. Such an environment must have nurtured Vuillard's sensuous awareness of patterns and textures. Vuillard was educated, like Toulouse-Lautrec, at the Lycee Condorcet in Paris, where he met Ker Xavier Roussel, who married his sister, and Maurice Denis. In 1886, Vuillard went on, with Roussel, to study painting at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts under the academic Jean Leon Gerome. Two years later he was working with Denis, his lifelong friend Pierre Bonnard, and Paul Serusier at the Academie Julian.

That year, 1888, Serusier met Gauguin at Pont-Aven in Brittany and later brought back with him a painting, The Talisman, of an entirely new type, the result of taking literally Gauguin's advice to paint in unmodulated, unshaded, unadulterated colors. Led by Serusier these young painters formed a group called the Nabis, after the Hebrew for "Prophets." Vuillard, Bonnard, Denis, and Roussel all became members. The Nabis quickly became leaders in the post-impressionist movement, attracting other painters and sculptors into their orbit. Many of them wrote and illustrated for La Revue Blanche.

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