Edouard Vuillard (artist)|
French, 1868 - 1940
Théodore Duret, 1912
oil on cardboard on wood
overall: 95.2 x 74.8 cm (37 1/2 x 29 7/16 in.) framed: 126 x 106 cm (49 5/8 x 41 3/4 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
Object 7 of 7
As a businessman and politician, collector and critic, Duret married an active public life with an interest in the arts. As a young man, he had been an intimate of the avant-garde circle of Manet and Degas.
In the background of Vuillard's portrait we see a literal reflection of that youth -- glimpsed in a mirror is another portrait of Duret, painted many decades before by the American James McNeill Whistler. Vuillard uses the Whistler portrait to contrast the old man with his younger, more vigorous self. The elegant younger figure stands erect; the old one is seated amid the papers that indicate his long career as a writer and critic. He is frail at seventy-four, almost a ghost of the young man whose political passions nearly sent him to the guillotine. His companion now is the cat Lulu, no longer the youthful men who challenged -- and changed -- art and literature.
Vuillard's dramatically tilted view into Duret's study recalls the unexpected angles of Degas' work, though for Vuillard, born a generation later, the influence of other artists, especially Gauguin, was more important.
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