Among Vuillard's major contributions to French modern art are the vast decorative panels he created between the 1890s and the 1930s. Most of them were commissioned by private patrons but in 1936, Vuillard and his Nabis colleagues (Pierre Bonnard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, and Maurice Denis) received a commission from the State -- the first for Vuillard -- to decorate the entrance to the theater of the new Palais de Chaillot in Paris. This small pastel is a study for Vuillard's painting on the theme of comedy. Setting the scene on the grounds of the Château des Clayes, near Versailles, Vuillard composed the vast painting like a stage. In the foreground, at left, are characters inspired by Molière -- a marquis seducing an ingénue, perhaps from The Misanthrope; and at right, Titania and the donkey-headed Bottom from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The final painting, still in place at the theater, is over eleven feet wide, showing Vuillard's talent for conceiving of monumental compositions with very small sketches.
Stamped at lower right, "E.V."