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'Un sanctuaire inviolable'?: Domesticity and the interior in Edouard Vuillard's work of the 1890's

Berry, Francesca Anne; (2000) 'Un sanctuaire inviolable'?: Domesticity and the interior in Edouard Vuillard's work of the 1890's. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Édouard Vuillard's work of the 1890's is categorised under the art historical rubric of Intimisme. It is a term deployed as the means to describe a particular mode and style of painting the domestic interior that has increasingly been identified with Vuillard's work of this period. As the term Intimisme has developed into a self-perpetuating art historical category for Vuillard's early paintings of his 'intimates', located in the domestic spaces they inhabited, its semantic relation to the word intimacy has been exploited in the drive to construct a narrative of the artist's privileged, yet objective, identification with his subjects. The employment of an alternative, historically contingent, model of artistic agency which is rooted in the theoretical understanding of Vuillard as a symptomatic psycho-social subject serves to problematise the enduring characterisation of the artist as a coherent and fully intentional author. This study also argues for the historical inaccuracy of the Vuillard narrative in its refusal to acknowledge the extent to which the asymmetrical distribution of gender relations according to the biological laws of sexual difference determined and defined the artistic subject's relation to all aspects of contemporary social and spatial organisation. This imbalance is redressed with reference to an historically contingent analysis of the paintings' ideological function in relation to the critical reception that initially greeted their public exhibition and a range of pertinent concepts, including those of 'intimacy', 'the interior' and 'domesticity'. Issues such as the pictorial representability of women's labour, the competing fin-de-siècle notions of the decorative, a son's repetitive representation of his mother and the interior as a valid metaphor for feminine subjectivity are discussed as part of this study's timely re-evaluation of Intimisme and its capacity to penetrate the 'sanctuaire inviolable' of the foyer domestique.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: 'Un sanctuaire inviolable'?: Domesticity and the interior in Edouard Vuillard's work of the 1890's
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Vuillard, Edouard
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124119
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