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Work of the Week: Foliage—Oak Tree and Fruit Seller

Édouard Vuillard, a French painter active at the turn of the 20th century, belonged to an artistic group known as a the Nabis, a collection of post-Impressionists who drew inspiration from Gauguin’s work in symbolism. The enormous Foliage, over 9 feet wide and 6 feet tall, depicts a street scene, heavily obscured by a massive oak tree, whose branches extend across the entire canvas. Hidden behind the leaves is a woman with a fruit cart, and several strolling figures. The chalky, textured surface is the result of the distemper medium, a technique in which powdered pigment is applied to the canvas with melted glue. This medium requires the artist to work quickly while the glue is still warm and the pigment pliable. Vuillard’s lush depiction of the tree and street is made of muted colors that diffuse the scene, giving the work a tapestry-like effect.

See Foliage and another Vuillard canvas in Gallery 245.

Édouard Vuillard. Foliage—Oak Tree and Fruit Seller, 1918. A Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation. © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.