Edouard Vuillard: The Mirror as a Motif at the Jewish Museum

Mirrors as Reflection of Self
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
Edouard Vuillard
Self-Portrait with Waroquy, 1889

Who was Edouard Vuillard? Clearly influenced by the impressionists who came before him, Vuillard associated himself with a group of artists knows as the Nabis who favored decorative, emotionally charged paintings such as those by Gauguin. The exhibition currently on display at the Jewish Museum starts off with a self-portrait. The artist is shown with a male friend. Unusual to show a self portrait with another figure, the artist was clearly making a statement about himself and most likely his sexual orientation. The artist ever married, and lived with his mother until her death. The portrait is a reflection in a mirror which one can only tell by the reflection of the bottle in the lower right corner of the picture space. A mirror is a motif that repeats often as a visual device throughout Vuillard’s works.

Edouard Vuillard
Lucy Hessel Reading, 1913

In another work by Vuillard, we are shown an intimate “portrait” f his friend Lucy Hessel in her bedroom. This scene again is unusual as depicting a married woman in her bedroom could be seen as sexual and scandalous in 1913, yet Madam Hessel is not shown sexualized so again Vuillard is making a statement about his relationship with his friendship to her as platonic. She is shown studying books which makes a statement about her intellectual interests and the mirror in the upper left corner reflects the garden in a window. This painting bears a striking resemblance to Mary Cassatt’s woman writing letter, in the color of the dress, the pose of the woman, and the flattened Japanese like picture space.

Mary Cassatt

A fun game to play with when you go to this exhibit whether with a bored adult or young child is to see how many mirrors you can count in the exhibition. There are fifty artworks in this exhibition, how many include mirrors??

Edouard Vuillard: A Painter and His Muses, 1890-1940 

The Jewish Museum

May 04, 2012 – September 23, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: check out all these beautiful mirrors for sale on etsy



6 thoughts on “Edouard Vuillard: The Mirror as a Motif at the Jewish Museum”

  1. Mirrors are a reflection of our second self, the one that others see us as….sometimes it is scary and sometimes it is fun;-)

    Thanks so very much for including my mirror….

    Marylou from EdenCoveTreasures on Etsy………((*_*))


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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