Vuillard and Debussy for a Weekend Afternoon

Édouard Vuillard, The Flowered Dress (1891)

As the Tate explains, “From 1891 through 1900, [Vuillard] was a prominent member of the Nabis, making paintings which assembled areas of pure color, and interior scenes, influenced by Japanese prints, where the subjects were blended into colors and patterns.”

The description put me in mind of a display of pages from a 17th C book of painted kosode patterns at the Met.

1891, the year of Vuillard’s painting, also marked the first publication of Debussy’s Two Arabesques:

“In the late 19th century, as part of the interest in the ‘other’ that permeated so much of French society, Debussy wrote two Arabesques. The term comes from art, where an ‘arabesque’ is a design of ‘surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns of scrolling and interlacing foliage, tendrils or plain lines.’” [cite]

Homage to Vuillard’s The Flowered Dress, S. Scheid 2022

9 thoughts on “Vuillard and Debussy for a Weekend Afternoon

  1. shoreacres

    It’s nice to see you doing a collage again. I especially like the way you picked up on the reflection from the mirror and made it part of the teapot. I really like this one!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      It keeps me occupied, anyway! Interesting what you say about the reflection in the mirror. I think can see how it would look that way, but, if I know what you are looking at, it’s actually a window. Here’s the underlying painting I used as the backdrop for the collage (although I think the color may be off in this particular photo of it): https://www.meer.com/en/7883-assenza-essenza.

  2. shoreacres

    I think we’re looking at different teapots. I meant the one in the upper right, seen against the window shades. Look at the painting at the top. Isn’t that a mirror at the left, reflecting a back view of the woman’s dress and hair?

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      I love the fact that we were, indeed, looking at different teapots, and you are of course absolutely right about the mirror image. (Imagine “I think we’re looking at different teapots” as a line from a conversation about which one knows nothing else.) You may guess from this that, as I didn’t recognize what you were talking about, a lot of what happens in these collages is more often than not far short of intentional.

  3. Curt Barnes

    How great to be reminded of Vuillard, since it’s been awhile since the N.Y. exhibitions mounted of his paintings and prints, and since the P & D (Pattern and Decoration) Movement has had a kind of revival of exposure, from L.A. to Bard College to Boston, in which several friends were involved, of which V. has to be considered a godfather. Also the connection between V’s relatively subdued colors and Debussy’s emotionally low-key piano works. AND finally your really enjoyable collage! Leaving aside a possible in-joke in your quotation of Paolo Quaresima’s pitchers and pots vis a vis your own almost fetish-like involvement with a pot shape, I have a question about the variable blue-green ground that surrounds the figures in your composition: where did you find a solid but gradated color like that? I can’t believe it’s just uneven lighting as you shot the work. Anyway that variation does all kinds of interesting things. Bravo!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Curt! The amount of information you’ve packed into this comment is worth the whole post, and then some. I am chagrined to confess I knew nothing of the Pattern and Decoration movement. I so wish I’d known to see exhibits of this kind of work like the ones you mention, as well as to see more of Vuillard’s work “in person.” I am mightily amused at your description of my “fetish-like involvement with a pot shape.” I’ll have you know I have more than one fetish! Brown Betty teapots, balustrades, and harvest jugs, to name a few–and I am intermittently on the look-out for more. Now, as to the blue-green ground’s gradated color: it has to be uneven lighting. Though I try, within my rudimentary set-up, to prevent this, it happens every time, along with that graininess you see. I’ve decided that, like my inability to eliminate the keystone effect in photographing things, to just go with it (though I do try to adjust for the keystone effect as best I can). Anyway, I’m delighted you found things here to enjoy. It’s always a gift to get the benefit of your knowledge and perspective.

  4. Curt Barnes

    If you want to read about the P&D Movement (you have to use the ampersand to bring up articles, apparently), 3 are referenced in the Times. It was aligned with an explicitly feminist movement in art, as well as the recruitment of crafts for fine arts purposes, though you can see it’s broader than either of those causes :

    https://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/01/14/arts/20080115_PATTERN_SLIDESHOW_index.html?searchResultPosition=2

    As to the inadvertence of your “gradated” ground color, I have no excuse! Maybe the actual work didn’t need it, though.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Curt, thank you so much for these links–they have already proved themselves to be a thoroughly enjoyable rabbit-hole to go down on a Sunday afternoon! As soon as I saw your reference to the P&D movement in your first comment, I started to explore, but these links extend and expand far beyond what I’d found. I was amused by the reviewer’s response to Robert Kushner’s work which, after looking at some of his work, I absolutely don’t buy. Though some are to my taste (whatever that is–I would say it’s always in formation), others not as much, I love what he’s trying to do, at which he often, by my lights, succeeds beautifully. Within the article, I really enjoyed this quote from Kushner: “Back in 1986, Mr. Kushner said: ”When you first start making art, everything is possible and desirable. Then the patterns of ideas start to emerge and you say, ‘What do I really want to do?’ ”

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