Student Response:
2008.487.45 Edouard Vuillard Monsieur Bute, 1890, photo-relief with watercolor stenciling Author: Ian Nicholl Nabi artist Edouard Vuillard creates an engaging and puzzling print in the form of Monsieur Bute, a program for a play at the Theatre Libre founded by Andre Antoine. This work offers a simple and initially serene depiction of a field planted by a worker, absent of many figures, save for that of the man and a tree. Though rather uncomplicated in terms of substance, the lithograph translates far more in terms of relevance to French life at the turn of the century. Monsieur Bute comes at a pivotal junction between politics and the arts, a period in which censorship dictated what was allowed for public consumption, and what would be stifled for sake of avoiding litigious commentary. Antoine and other directors of the time fought constant battles of censorship, most prominently on productions that illuminated the darker side of human nature. Ultimately, they became freed of this burden when the state terminated the censoring of theatre in 1904. The arrival of Nabi directors such as Antoine and others marked a shift in theatre in fin-de-siècle Paris and ushered in a new age of theatre in which the content of their plays portrayed emerging social issues, enhanced further by deliberate methods of production. The emergence of these shows forged a platform where widespread struggles became polarized in the eyes of the audience. Vuillard and other symbolist artists worked jointly with directors as they created subjects of discussion with their theatrical presentations, in turn providing the artists an arena to push the boundaries of modern morals and critique the grievances of Parisian society. The employment of soft, muted colors and unique line shapes, the detached nature of the man, the inexorable breadth of the field, all these elements build a space for Vuillard to portray the battle of the lower classes. While the contents and methods that produce Monsieur Bute appear simplistic and direct, the scene contains tremendous depth; A laborer with steadfast focus on his toils, hands dirtied, and body worn and weathered. The whole composition is raw, gritty, and is a presentation of life that sought to trigger discomfort among Parisian theatre-goers. Emerging to many was the struggle of poverty, the loneliness of societal abandonment, and the challenging of long held morals and values. Purposeful naivety became a principle often entrenched in Vuillard’s work. Straying away from calculated complexities of academic art of the past granted him the opportunity to form such brutally honest pieces as that of Monsieur Bute.
Current Location:
Cabinet F -> Drawer 11 (F)
Location Notes:
PDC; Cabinet F; Drawer 11

Robert L. Hoskins and Erwin A. Raible Collection of Fin de Siécle French Prints, Gift of Elaine Rutowski Shay ➔ Monsieur Bute

Artwork
Medium:
Photo-Relief with Watercolor Stenciling
Date:
1890
Dimensions:
Artworks - Height: 7.35 in Width: 6.5 in
Note: Paper size: 8.5"h x 7.75"w Mat: 20"h x 16"w
Description:
On recto pastel yellow, grey, blue, pink image. Man bending down to feet. White hair, yellow background with scribbles, text "Theare Libre" on right side. Black outlines. On verso black program text, titled, "Deuxieme Spectacle." Pink, black, red face in upper left hand corner 1 3/8in from the left and 3/4in from top edge. Pencil markings in bottom right corner with Erve Raible stamp.
Library of Congress Subjects:
France--History--19th century