In 1894–95, Thadée and Misia Natanson commissioned from Vuillard a series of five decorative panels known collectively as "The Album." The unusual character of these works matched that of the Natansons' Paris apartment, a large open space adjoined by several small alcove areas. Its unconventional decor reflected Misia's taste, which was inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement. The apartment often served as an alternative office for Thadée's lively avant-garde journal, "La Revue blanche." Among the contributors to this influential publication were Claude Debussy, Léon Blum, Stéphane Mallarmé, and André Gide. The evocative Symbolist qualities of Mallarmé's poetry and Debussy's music find echoes in Vuillard's five panels, which take their name from this painting.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): E. Vuillard
Thadée Natanson and his wife, née Misia Godebska (1895–1904; one of five decorative canvases, known collectively as The Album, commissioned in 1894–95, completed November 1895, and installed in their Paris apartment in or after January 1896; later installed in their summer residence Le Relais, Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, and possibly at La Grangette, Valvins, near Fontainebleau); Thadée Natanson (1904–8; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 13, 1908, no. 51, for Fr 2,000 to Rysselberghe); Théo van Rysselberghe, Paris, later Saint-Clair, Lavandou (from 1908; d. 1926); Émile Mayrisch, Colpach, Luxembourg (d. 1928); his daughter, Mme Pierre Viénot, called Andrée Pierre-Viénot (by 1928–69; sold on February 18, 1969 to Wildenstein); [Wildenstein, New York, 1969–72; sold on April 11, 1972 to Annenberg]; Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg, Rancho Mirage, California (1972–2000; jointly with MMA, 2000–his d. 2002; his bequest to MMA)
Paris. Galerie Siegfried Bing. "Salon de l'Art Nouveau," December 26, 1895–January 1896, part of no. 210 (as "Décoration en cinq panneaux," lent by Mme Thadée-Natanson).
Berlin. Ausstellunghaus am Kurfürstendamm. "XI Secession," Spring 1906, part of no. 296 (as "Dekorationsbilder").
Kunsthalle Basel. "Édouard Vuillard (1868–1940), Charles Hug," March 26–May 1, 1949, no. 232 (as "Conversation," lent by Musée des Beaux-Arts, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg).
Hamburg. Der Kunstverein. "Vuillard: Gemälde, Pastelle, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik," June 6–July 26, 1964, no. 88 (as "Das Album," lent by a private collection).
Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 21–September 17, 1989, unnumbered cat. (p. 113).
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," May 6–August 5, 1990, unnumbered cat.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," August 16–November 11, 1990, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection," June 4–October 13, 1991, unnumbered cat.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930," June 26–September 9, 2001, no. 35 (as "Album").
Arsène Alexandre. "L'Art nouveau." Le Figaro (December 28, 1895), p. 1, describes the Album panels in Exh. Paris 1895–96 as "une pièce contigue, ce sont des panneaux harmonieux et discrets".
Edmond Cousturier. "Les Galeries S. Bing: Le Mobilier." La Revue blanche 10 (January 15, 1896), p. 93.
Camille Mauclair. "Choses d'Art." Mercure de France 17 (February 1896), pp. 267–68, criticizes the Album panels as disjointed and banal.
Édouard Vuillard. Journal. October 30, 1896 [Bibliothèque de l'Institut de France, Paris, MS 5396, carnet 2, fol. 57v. Excerpt published in Ref. Beaulieu and Beaulieu 2002, n. 8], in an autobiographical summary under 1895, notes "novembre les panneaux de Thadée".
Paul Signac. Journal. December 16, 1898 [excerpt published in John Rewald, "Extraits du journal inédit de Paul Signac, III, 1898–1899, Gazette des beaux-arts, 42, (July–August 1953), p. 36], describes two panels at Natanson's home [possibly this painting].
Édouard Vuillard. Journal.  [Bibliothèque de l'Institut de France, Paris, MS 5396, carnet 2, fol. 78r. Excerpt published in Ref. Easton 1989, p. 143], lists it in an autobiographical summary under 1895 as "panneaux de Thadée".
Édouard Vuillard. Journal. November 11–12, 1908 [Bibliothèque de l'Institut de France, Paris, MS 5397, carnet 2, fol. 13v. Excerpt published in Ref. Easton 1989, p. 144], lists it in an autobiographical summary under 1895 as "panneaux de Thadée novembre".
Achille Segard. Peintres d'aujourd'hui: Les Décorateurs. 1914, vol. 2, p. 320.
André Chastel. Vuillard, 1868–1940. Paris, 1946, pp. 53, 115, notes that the five panels for Natanson were called "Intérieurs".
Roseline Bacou. "Décors d'appartements au temps des Nabis." Art de France 4 (1964), p. 196.
James Dugdale. "Vuillard the Decorator, I. First Phase: the 1890s." Apollo 81 (February 1965), p. 97.
Félix Fénéon. Œuvres plus que complètes. Ed. Joan U. Halperin. Vol. 1, Chroniques d'art. Geneva, 1970, pp. 257–58, 265, reprints text from Natanson 1908 sale catalogue.
Jan Lauts and Werner Zimmermann, ed. Katalog Neuere Meister, 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Vol. 1, Karlsruhe, 1971, p. 289, under no. 2520, note that this picture appears in "Cipa Listening to Misia Playing the Piano" (about 1897–98; Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe; SC VI-38).
George L. Mauner. The Nabis: Their History and Their Art, 1888–1896. PhD diss., Columbia University. New York, 1978, pp. 170, 176–77, 196, 261, 268, states that the Album panels were already completed for Natanson when Vuillard decided to include them in Bing's Art Nouveau exhibition.
Claire Frèches-Thory. "'Jardins publics' de Vuillard." La Revue du Louvre et des musées de France 29 (1979), p. 312 n. 18.
Impressionist and Modern Paintings and Sculpture (Part I). Christie's, New York. November 14, 1989, p. 73, under no. 55.
Elizabeth Wynne Easton. The Intimate Interiors of Edouard Vuillard. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Washington, 1989, pp. 117, 143–44, notes the inclusion of this picture in the backgrounds of "The Salon, rue Saint-Florentin" (1897; Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zürich; SC VI-39) and "Misia at the Piano with Her Brother Cipa Godebski" (1897; Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe; SC VI-38).
Claire Frèches-Thory. "Les ensembles décoratifs." Les Nabis. Paris, 1990, pp. 122, 124–26, 130, ill. (color, overall and detail).
Gloria Groom. "Landscape as Decoration: Edouard Vuillard's Ile-de-France Paintings for Adam Natanson." Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 16, no. 2 (1990), pp. 153, 181 n. 21.
Jérôme Coignard. "Le Salon de peinture de Mr. et Mrs. Annenberg." Beaux Arts no. 92 (July–August 1991), pp. 66, 72.
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism & Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Colin B. Bailey, Joseph J. Rishel, and Mark Rosenthal. Exh. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia, 1991, pp. 112–16, 202–5, ill. (color and bw).
Nancy Ellen Forgione. "Edouard Vuillard in the 1890s: Intimism, Theater, and Decoration." PhD diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1992, pp. 105–6, calls the ensemble of five panels "Women and Flowers".
Henry van de Velde. Récit de ma vie. Ed. Anne van Loo and Fabrice van de Kerckhove. Vol. 1, Anvers—Bruxelles—Paris—Berlin, 1863–1900. Brussels, 1992, p. 269, states that by June 1895, Bing had commissioned Vuillard to decorate an antechamber for his Art Nouveau exhibition [Exh. Paris 1895–96].
Gloria Groom. Édouard Vuillard, Painter-Decorator: Patrons and Projects, 1892–1912. New Haven, 1993, pp. 67, 69, 71, 74, 76–77, 80–81, 85–87, 89–90, 145, 222 n. 12, p. 223 nn. 38, 44, figs. 111, 114 (color, detail and overall), figs. 149, 150 (installation photos), notes that Vuillard likely consulted the Natansons regarding the subject, format, and palette of the Album panels, observing that ours is thematically and compositionally most like "The Dressing Table" and "The Stoneware Vase" (both private collection; SC V-96.4, V-96.5); discusses their informal hanging in the Natanson home "as temporary and portable wall hangings," adding that the MMA painting appears to have been installed unframed in various Natanson residences.
Impressionist & Nineteenth Century Art. Christie's, New York. November 18, 1998, pp. 96–97, under no. 38, fig. 3.
Ira Berkow. "Jewels in the Desert." Artnews 97 (May 1998), pp. 148–49, ill. (color).
Gloria Groom. Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 2001, pp. 126–34, 266–67, no. 35, ill. (color).
Sabine Rewald in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2000–2001." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 59 (Fall 2001), pp. 46–47, ill. (color).
Annette Leduc Beaulieu and Brooks Beaulieu. "The Thadée Natanson Panels: A Vuillard Decoration for S. Bing's Maison de l'Art Nouveau." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Vol. 1, Autumn 2002, http:// www.19thc-artworldwide.org/ autumn_02/ articles/ beau.shtml
, assert that Vuillard designed the five Album panels specifically for the model room in Bing's Maison de l'Art Nouveau [Exh. Paris 1895–96], sponsored by Natanson; based on a floorplan of the room, the dimensions of the panels, and a drawing by Vuillard, propose that the installation "openly evoke[d] the art of tapestry" in a "continuous horizontal frieze".
Antoine Salomon, and Guy Cogeval, with the collaboration of Mathias Chivot. Vuillard, the Inexhaustible Glance: Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels. Milan, 2003, vol. 1, pp. 359, 430–35, 478, 480, 503, no. V-96.2, ill. (color); vol. 3, p. 1325, assert that Natanson commissioned the panels while Bing simultaneously "provided the occasion" for their creation and exhibition; note the panels' similarity to Klimt's paintings after 1910.
Kimberly Jones inÉdouard Vuillard. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. Montreal, 2003, pp. 186, 188, 191, ill., comments that "it seems highly probable that Vuillard conceived the suite with both the Natanson apartment and the Maison de l'Art Nouveau gallery in mind".
Edwin Becker inL'Art Nouveau: La Maison Bing. Ed. Gabriel P. Weisberg, Edwin Becker, and Évelyne Possémé. Exh. cat., Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam, 2004, p. 126.
Katherine M. Kuenzli. "Painting and Memory in the Career of Édouard Vuillard." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Vol. 3, Spring 2004, http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/index.php/spring04/276-edouard-vuillard.
Annette Leduc Beaulieu and Brooks Beaulieu. "Crisis and Resolution in Vuillard's Search for Art Nouveau Unity in Modern Decoration: Sources for 'The Public Gardens'." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide. Vol. 4, Summer 2005, http:// www.19thc-artworldwide.org/ summer_05/ articles/ beau.shtml.
Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale. Sotheby's, London. June 19, 2006, pp. 100–101, under no. 31, fig. 1 (color).
Sabine Rewald inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 188–89, 311, no. 174, ill. (color and bw), states that the Natansons commissioned the panels.
Holger Jacob-Friesen inÉdouard Vuillard. Exh. cat., Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe. Heidelberg, 2008, pp. 103–5, 109 n. 10, fig. 3 (color).
Joseph J. Rishel inMasterpieces of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism: The Annenberg Collection. Ed. Susan Alyson Stein and Asher Ethan Miller. 4th rev. ed. [1st ed., 1989]. New York, 2009, p. 251 n. 4, pp. 260–69, no. 49, ill. (color and bw) and p. viii (color, installation photo).