Dressmakers under the Lamp

Édouard Vuillard (French, 1868-1940)
c. 1891-1892
Oil on cardboard 
9-5/8 x 10-1/2 in. (24.4 x 26.7 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
On View

Vuillard’s father died when he was sixteen, leaving his mother to support the family as a dressmaker. She worked at home in a series of small Parisian apartments she shared with her son. This dimly lit scene, intimate to the point of claustrophobia, suggests the long hours she kept and the cramped conditions of her labor. Coupling family intimacy with a sense of foreboding, the picture is typical of the artist’s early work. Close contact with his mother’s trade—fabric, color, pattern, and silhouette—left an enduring mark on Vuillard’s style, still evident in much later works of far grander scale and ambition.


The artist’s studio, to;
Private Collection, Paris (probably Ker-Xavier Roussel) by 1943, to;
Jacques Salomon (son-in-law of Roussel), by 1955;
[Galerie La Cave, Paris, sold 1 October 1979 to];
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

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