Galerie des Modernes

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Edouard Vuillard

Post impressionism, Nabi

  • Le Déjeuner du petit Jean Gosset en Normandie

Edouard Vuillard

(Cuiseaux, 1868 - La Baule, 1940)

Le Déjeuner du petit Jean Gosset en Normandie, 1911

Oil on canvas 
Signed and dated lower right E. Vuillard 1911
81 x 102 cm  

Executed in Normandy between 12 and 17 September 1911

Provenance :
- Dr and Mrs Antonin Gosset, Paris (parents of the model, acquired directly from the artist)
- Private collection

Exhibitions :
- Édouard Vuillard, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, 15 - 27 April 1912, no. 14 (entitled Portrait d'enfant
- Manzi-Joyant, Exposition d'art moderne, Paris, 1912, n° 204
- Édouard Vuillard (1868-1940), Kunsthalle, Basel, 26 March - 1 May 1949, no. 214
- Édouard Vuillard, exhibition in 2 American museums :
. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, 26 January - 14 March 1954 
. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 7 April - 6 June 1954

Literature :
Vuillard, Le Regard innombrable, Catalogue critique des peintures et pastels by Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, Volume II, Paris, 2003, described and reproduced in colour on p. 1116, n° IX-166

The portrait is a favourite theme in the work of Édouard Vuillard, and the artist particularly liked to depict his family and friends in the intimacy of everyday life.

Our painting, Le déjeuner du petit Jean Gosset en Normandie, was commissioned by Vuillard's friends Dr. Antonin Gosset, a leading digestive surgeon, and Mania, his wife. 
In the summer of 1911, the Gossets had rented a villa in Normandy, not far from the village of Cricquebœuf, where Vuillard spent his holidays with Jos and Lucy Hessel. 
According to his diary, Vuillard painted Le déjeuner du petit Jean Gosset en Normandie in five days, between 12 and 17 September 1911.

Preparatory Drawing for Le Déjeuner du petit Jean Gosset en Normandie 
Made on 12 September 1911 (from the artist's diary)
Graphite on paper
14.8 x 11.9 cm
Private collection

The composition depicts Jean, the son of the Gosset couple; a boy with blond curls, seated in a rattan armchair, sitting in the garden of the property. Vuillard, sensitive to the figure of childhood, had fun capturing the instantaneous gesture of the little boy who, with his mouth half-open, is trying to eat. In the centre of the painting, the large tablecloth, the silver tray, the three blue plates and the kettledrum form a subtle still life. The lush greenery contrasts sharply with the model's red clothing and the patterned tablecloth. The sun illuminates the composition, the luxuriant foliage that serves as a backdrop like a tapestry gives this intimate and peaceful scene a softness and poetry specific to the artist.

Vuillard, who never went anywhere without his Kodak camera, took a photograph of the garden of the villa where the young model would be sitting. The rattan chair is still empty...

Empty chair in a garden corner, circa 1911
Private collection


Annette Vaillant, writer and daughter of Alfred Natanson (co-founder of the Revue Blanche), recalls the scene in the painting: "A much happier child, contemporary of my sister Denise, was Jean Gosset, the son of the already well-known and very fashionable surgeon. Dr. Gosset had moved his wife and son to a nearby villa, and Vuillard painted a beautiful portrait of this little boy in a pink jersey sailor suit, with a little hat pulled up over his blond curls. He was having his snack outside in the sun and drinking from a large white cup. My sister, diabolically authoritarian with Jean Gosset, frightened and shy, terrified him."
Annette Vaillant in Le pain polka, édiyions Mercure de France, Paris, 1974



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