The First Steps


Edouard Vuillard ( French, 1868 - 1940 )

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General Description

Edouard Vuillard lived with his mother until her death in 1928, and her continual presence made her the most frequent subject in his domestic subjects and interiors; she is easily recognized by her diminutive stature and characteristic gray bun. Here we see her watching over the tottering steps of her first grandchild, Annette, the daughter of Vuillard's sister, Marie. They are in the corner of the room that served as Vuillard’s studio in the apartment where he lived with his mother. Blank canvases are stacked against the far wall, and a large tapestry chair dominates the foreground, towering over young Annette and accentuating her small size while also offering a firm grip for her chubby hand. Annette was a frequent visitor at the Vuillards' apartment and she remained one of the artist's favorite subjects as she grew into adulthood.

Adapted from

  • Heather MacDonald, DMA Label copy, 2010.

  • Heather MacDonald, DMA Label copy, 2014.

Fun Facts

  • Belinda Thomson argues that the title First Steps was likely given by a subsequent owner of the painting. Vuillard preferred general titles such as "Interior" and avoided sentimental references. (See Thomson's essay, People in Rooms: Four Paintings by Edouard Vuillard.)