First Fruits

Édouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940)
Oil on canvas 
96 x 170 in. (243.8 x 431.8 cm) 
Credit Line:
The Norton Simon Foundation 
Accession Number:
© The Norton Simon Foundation; Photography courtesy the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles 
On View

At fourteen feet across, First Fruits is the largest canvas Vuillard ever painted. He likely sketched its composition from the window of a villa outside Paris where he passed the summer of 1899 with his sister, her husband, and their young daughter. The painting’s grand scale and border of flowering plants, however, indicate that this is no spontaneous, outdoor sketch but a kind of patterned, painted tapestry, originally conceived as a decoration for the private library of a Parisian banker. Though inspired by the pleasures of a family holiday in the countryside, the picture, as one contemporary critic remarked, was quite evidently “painted in a city and for a city apartment.”


Commissioned by Adam Natanson (d. 1906), for 85, rue Jouffroy, Paris, by descent to his son;
Thadée Natanson, Paris (sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 13 June 1908, lot 63, as Les premiers fruits, for Ffr 1200 to);
Alexandre Natanson, Paris (sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 16 May 1929, lot 126, ill., as Les premiers fruits, to);
Mme. Bloch, to;
Léon Blum (d. 1950), Paris, 1929-1950, to;
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York;
[Wildenstein, New York];
Private collection, Switzerland;
[Wildenstein, New York, sold 1973 to];
The Norton Simon Foundation.

Oil sketches relating to this painting were on sale at Christie’s (New York), Impressionist and Modern Paintings and Sculpture, 17 May 1983, lot 29; and Sotheby’s (New York), Impressionist and Modern Paintings and Sculpture, Part II, 10 May 1989, lot 331.

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