Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Art Review - "Marcelle Aron (Mme. Tristan Bernard)" by Édouard Vuillard

Today's #MuseumTourTuesday features a large portrait by French painter Edouard Vuillard.

I've always found the number of patterns Vuillard incorporates into his paintings fascinating. My favorite quote by Vuillard is as follows: "A form or a color exists only in relation to another. Form does not exist on its own. We can only conceive of the relations." The artist clearly proves this in his paintings, as he performs a delicate dance with colors, graphic shapes, and textures to control the composition. Many areas throughout this work in particular appear overly simplistic on their own, but work in context to support the overall design.
This painting is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.
"Marcelle Aron (Mme. Tristan Bernard)" • Édouard Vuillard
• Distemper on Canvas • 1914 • 156.5cm x 181.3cm

Unlike most of Vuillard's well known paintings, this piece is not executed in oil, but rather distemper, where ground pigment is mixed with animal glue to adhere it to the canvas. This gives the painting more of a matte appearance than traditional oil paint, which is more translucent. Distemper can be painted directly on surfaces such as cardboard without the need for a primer coat, but it is also more delicate and lacks the permanence of oil paint. Vuillard often worked as a decorative interior painter, creating theatrical sets and murals, where archival concerns were not considered important. My guess is that he became accustomed to the medium and enjoyed its inherent qualities.
In the detail image below, you can see the textural layering inherent with distemper. This works really well with the dog's coat, and in the patterns of the couch and lace.
"Marcelle Aron (Mme. Tristan Bernard)" Detail • Édouard Vuillard
• Distemper on Canvas • 1914 • 156.5cm x 181.3cm

This is one of my favorite details in the painting. I find the reflected image of the sitter more interesting than the straight on view. The simplicity of shape, combined with the natural qualities of the paint adds additional textural variety to the numerous patterns featured throughout the piece.

"Marcelle Aron (Mme. Tristan Bernard)" Detail • Édouard Vuillard
• Distemper on Canvas • 1914 • 156.5cm x 181.3cm

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts
© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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