Vuillard belonged to a quasi-mystical group of young artists that arose in about 1890 and called themselves the Nabi, a Hebrew word for prophet. The Nabi rejected impressionism and considered simple transcription of the appearance of the natural world unthinking and unartistic. Inspired by Gauguin's work and symbolist poetry, their paintings evoke rather than specify, suggest rather than describe. Recognizing that the physical components of painting -- colored pigments arranged on a flat surface -- were artificial, they considered as false the traditional convention of regarding paintings as re-creations of the natural world.
Woman in a Striped Dress is one of five decorations Vuillard painted in 1895 for Thadée Natanson, publisher of the avant-garde journal La Revue Blanche, and his wife Misia Godebska, an accomplished pianist. The five, which differ in size and orientation, are intimate, self contained interiors, Vuillard's principal subject. All display rich harmonies in a restricted range of color and densely arranged in intricate patterns. The introspective woman arranging flowers here perhaps represents the red-haired Misia, whom Vuillard admired greatly. Vuillard adopted the symbolist idea of synesthesia, whereby one sense can evoke another, and in Woman in a Striped Dress the sumptuous visual qualities of Vuillard's reds may suggest the lush chords of music that Misia performed.
lower right: E. Vuillard
Commissioned 1895 by Thaddée Natanson, Paris; (Natanson sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 12 June 1908, no. 55); purchased by M. Escher. Georg Herbert Dietze, Frankfurt, by 1964; sold 1966 to (Wildenstein & Co., London, New York, and Paris); by whom sold October 1966 to Mr. Paul Mellon, Upperville, VA; gift 1983 to NGA.
- Vuillard, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 1964. no. 26, repro.
- Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1986, unnumbered checklist, repro.
- Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, State Hermitage Museum, Leningrad; State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 1986, no. 5, repro.
- The Intimate Interiors of Edouard Vuillard, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Phillips Collection, Washington; The Brooklyn Museum, 1989-1990, no. 87, repro.
- From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metroplitan Museum of Art, New York, National Gallery of Greece, Athens, 1992-1993, no. 70, repro.
- Nabis 1888-1900, Kunsthaus, Zurich; Grand Palais, Paris; Musée d'Orsay, Paris, 1993-1994, no. 172, repro.
- Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890-1930, Art Institute of Chicago; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001, no. 39, repro.
- Edouard Vuillard, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2003-2004, no. 126, repro., as The Striped Blouse.
- The Origins of L'Art Nouveau: The Bing Empire, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; CaixaForum, Barcelona; Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2004-2006, unnumbered catalogue, fig. 128 (shown only in Amsterdam and Munich).
- Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940, The Jewis Museum, New York, unnumbered catalogue, repro.
- European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 433, repro.
- Kopper, Philip. America's National Gallery of Art: A Gift to the Nation. New York, 1991: 277, 283, color repro.
- National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 204, repro.
- Salomon, Antoine, and Guy Cogeval. Vuillard, The Inexhaustible Glance: Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels. 3 vols. Milan and Paris, 2003: 1:no. V-96.1, repro., as Woman in a Striped Blouse.