"On February 13, 1923, now more than ninety years ago, Vuillard dropped by the Hotel Meurice, where his old friend, Misia, was finishing a long lunch with Coco Chanel and Pierre Bonnard. It seems that Bonnard walked Vuillard back to the apartment Misia shared with her third husband, the Catalan painter, Josep Maria Sert. From Vuillard’s brief journal entry, we know that Sert insisted then and there that Vuillard paint a portrait of Misia, which the painter commenced—seemingly against his will—in 1923…… "
The resulting painting titled The Black Cups was called by Musée d’Orsay Director and Vuillard scholar Guy Cogeval a “perverse anti-portrait.” This painting, a large preparatory study in distemper, and 113 preparatory drawings, will be exhibited together for the first time, in a highly focused exhibition designed to complement the much larger retrospective of Vuillard’s career at the Jewish Museum in New York.
"To flatter was not Vuillard’s aim, not because he COULDN’T flatter, but because he would rather tell the truth. His truths were told visually, and the results are often painful—like those told in the portraits of Giacometti or Soutine or Bacon or Freud. It is to this difficult modernity—modernity steeped in the past and unafraid of complexity—to which Vuillard makes such a compelling and important contribution. There is probably no other 20th century artist who more honestly—and more clinically—portrayed that anxious century in a great city that was, even in its own eyes, beginning a long, slow decline into a cluttered and infinitely interesting past."