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Swiss landscapes on show at Vuillard retrospective

Vuillard's "Swiss landscape", painted in 1900. Edouard Vuillard

A series of stunning Swiss landscapes are among the treats in store for visitors to a major retrospective of the French artist, Edouard Vuillard.

The exhibition shows how Vuillard turned his hand to the great outdoors, and also contains examples of his better-known Parisian scenes.

The post-impressionist artist (1868-1940) remained on the fringes of celebrity compared to his high-profile contemporaries, such as Cezanne and Gauguin.

The current show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington aims to address this injustice by giving visitors the opportunity to discover Vuillard’s art in all its richness and diversity.

The full picture

The exhibition takes in Vuillard’s smaller, densely coloured paintings of the Nabis, a group whose members included Pierre Bonnard, to his large scale portraits of the 1930s showing men and women in their offices, a subject later emulated by Edward Hopper.

The exhibition has many surprises in store for Vuillard fans, including poster designs, stained glass and photographs, as well as his Swiss landscapes.

Many of the 230 works are on public display for the first time, on loan from private collectors including actor Sean Connery.

Swiss escape

Vuillard first headed to Switzerland in 1900 in need of a break away from Paris and the dense interiors he painted for wealthy patrons.

“I really enjoy being in the country and I am able to admire without being reminded of paintings,” the artist wrote.

Invigorated by his new surroundings, Vuillard produced a series of sumptuous landscapes, some inspired by the Rheinfelden on the banks of the Rhine, others exploring the countryside and villages of canton Vaud.

Basel patrons

Twenty years later, Vuillard’s career was once again influenced by Switzerland, this time in the form of a commission from the wealthy industrialist, Camille Bauer.

Bauer wanted Vuillard to paint three decorative panels and two mantelpieces for his Basel home, but left it up to the artist to choose his subjects.

With the Louvre recently reopened after the war, Vuillard pored over its collection and created a tribute to his greatest influences: Greek and Roman nudes, medieval stained glass, Chardin and Watteau, as well as the vases and sculptures of the Salle des Cariatides.

The Vuillard retrospective runs in Washington until April 20. It then travels to the Montreal Museum, the Grand Palais in Paris and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

swissinfo, Marie-Christine Bonzom in Washington

Over 230 works of the French artist, Edouard Vuillard, are on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
The post-impressionist painter gained prominence with his Parisian scenes which are on show alongside his lesser-known work, including his depictions of Switzerland.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR