Edouard Vuillard french, 1868–1940

A Man Seen from Behind, or an Actor

c. 1889 – 90 China ink on paper 5 5 ⁄ 8 x 4 1 ⁄ Stamped lower right

8 in. ( 14 . 5 x 10 . 5 cm)

provenance: Collection Salomon Sold to Private Collection, Paris, in the 1990 s.

Vuillard’s early genius was in the exaggerated and dramatic silhouettes of the people around him, in particular the large and expressive movements of actors. Vuillard and the Nabis artists had a close connection to avant guard theater, painting backdrops, designing brochures and posters. Vuillard spent much of his time observing and recording rehearsals, watching carefully the movements and placements of the actor’s bodies, arms, and hands. In our drawing, Vuillard records a man straining for an itch just out of reach. The bend in the legs and the stabilizing hand on the wall, show the weight and balance of a figure that is otherwise flat. While all the action is highlighted in the unpainted left hand. It is this unique quality that made Vuillard’s Nabis work successful; distilling the essence of forms while imbuing it with emotion and mass.

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