Félix Vallotton
Misia at Her Dressing Table

Misia at Her Dressing Table
Félix Vallotton (1865-1925)
Misia at Her Dressing Table
1898
Tempera on cardboard
H. 36; W. 29 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Misia à sa coiffeuse [Misia at Her Dressing Table]


Misia à sa coiffeuse (Misia at Her Dressing Table), dated 1898, reflects the close collaboration of Félix Vallotton with the Nabis and is among the finest paintings of his career. The sitter, Misia Godebska (1872-1950) was then the wife of the Parisian publisher Thadée Natanson, who, together with his brothers Alfred and Alexandre, had founded La Revue blanche in 1891, to which Bonnard, Vuillard and Vallotton frequently contributed. Alongside her husband, Misia played an important role in the Parisian artistic circles at the turn of the century, as a muse and patron of artists - Bonnard, Vuillard, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec painted her portrait - as well as writers and composers.

Fascinated by Misia's exuberant and energetic personality, Vallotton painted several portraits of her including this one, certainly executed in the summer of 1898 in the couple's country house in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. Represented in intimacy in front of her dressing table, Misia's large figure dominates the composition, the curves of her body and dress in contrast with the sharp lines intersecting the picture plane. The light, coming from an invisible source, creates a highly-contrasted play of light and shade that also contributes to highlight the abrupt originality of the framing and that of the mat colours.

In a composition in which everything is calculated down to the framed engraving by Vallotton which hangs on the wall, Misia à sa coiffeuse is not only one of the most accomplished intimate portraits in the painter's career, but also, thanks to the model represented, an important document of his time.


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