Les deux bocks stamped with the artist's initials 'E.V.' (lower right) pastel and gouache on paper 18 11/16 x 20 9/16in. (47.5 x 52.3 cm) Drawn circa 1908-09
PROVENANCE Galerie Renou et Colle, Paris. Private collection, United Kingdom (acquired by 1970); Sotheby's, London, 5 February 2003, lot 113. Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
EXHIBITED Luxemburg, Musée National d'Art et d'Histoire (on loan 1976-2002).
LITERATURE A. Salomon and G. Cogeval, Vuillard, The Inexhaustible Glance, Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, II, Paris, 2003, p. 815, no. VII-536, illustrated.
The present work is from a series of drawings by Vuillard of characteristic Belle Époque scenes, specifically of the dissolute if fashionable nightspots such the Moulin Rouge (which may be shown here), the Palais de Glace and the Cafe Wepler. At this period Vuillard was a member of the circle around the Natanson brothers, publishers of the avant-garde magazine La Revue Blanche. He worked frequently on theatre designs, including for the sensational première of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, and was close to such demi-monde figures as Toulouse Lautrec, who drawings the present work recalls. The creative and highly charged use of contrasting tones, and the boldly tessellated blocks of colour look both to Vuillard's symbolist paintings and the emotional impact of more expressionist works of the coming century.