interior; woman; man; furniture
The Suitor depicts the artist's sister, Marie Vuillard, sorting fabrics in the workshop of the Vuillard family's dressmaking business. The painter Ker-Xavier Roussel, a close friend of Vuillard, peeks around an opened door and appears to meet Marie's gaze. At the time this painting was executed, Roussel and Marie Vuillard were courting; they were married later in 1893. Edouard Vuillard initially studied at the Academie Julian, a traditional art school, but in 1890 he joined the artists' group known as the "Nabis" (meaning "prophets" in Hebrew). Reacting against the Impressionists' focus on reproducing natural effects, and directly influenced by Paul Gauguin, the Nabis developed a new style that was characterized by exaggerated and expressive color and decorative designs. In this painting, the overall floral pattern that covers the door and walls, reminiscent of Japanese wood-block prints, flattens the pictorial space. Marie Vuillard's print dress and the grid of white blossoms outside the open window, at right, add to the variety of patterns and textures in the painting.
Other label: The scene represented here takes place in the Paris workshop of Vuillard’s seamstress mother. The artist Ker Xavier Roussel enters the studio as Marie, Vuillard’s sister, pauses to look up from her work. The Suitor, the title that became associated with the painting, reflects the beginning of a courtship that would ultimately result in a troubled marriage.
The exquisite patterning of Marie’s dress and the wallpaper exemplifies the decorative emphasis of the Nabis brotherhood,
a late nineteenth-century avant-garde movement to which both Vuillard and Roussel belonged. The Nabis (a Hebrew word meaning “prophets”) rejected the traditional functions of form, color, and perspective to express emotions and spiritual truth.