As the majority of Vuillard’s interior paintings describe courtyards of the two buildings in Paris where he lived, the unidentifiable interior seen in this painting is a subject of much debate. The figure shown before the staircase is perhaps Vuillard’s mother, a seamstress, who appears to be crouching over a balustrade either working on a garment or in pensive repose. The complex architectural space suggests that this interior may be Vuillard’s studio when he was working as a set painter. Starting in 1889, Vuillard associated with a group of young avant-garde artists who called themselves the Nabi (Hebrew for “prophet”). They painted from memory, a departure from the immediacy championed by the Impressionists who came before them. It was at this time that Vuillard came to know Pierre Bonnard, an artist who would remain a friendly rival throughout his career.