A surprising drawing by Edouard Vuillard of the singer and actress, Félicia Mallet. The artist wrote with a large brush in China ink the name of the famous performer in the lower part of his composition. Almost unreadable, the text matches the overall drawing, realized with large brush strokes in a very lively manner. Most likely, it was a way to illustrate the incredible vivacity and passionate character of Félicia Mallet. This sheet has just been discovered by specialists and have not yet been identified with a precise poster project. Vuillard created a beautiful frontispiece for Félicia Mallet in L’Enfant prodigue around 1890-91. Mallet, known for her mime character is portrayed as Pierrot, and Vuillard transformed her face into a mask. Here, Félicia is represented in a very experimental way, typical of the early creative years of Vuillard.
This is an extraordinary image created by the Nabi master, and one of the most symbolist and dream-like portraits that he ever imagined. Very modern, the figure possesses a hypnotic force embodied in the yellow of her body and face, vibrating in contrast with the China Ink surrounding her, as well as her wide eyes fixed on us. This was in fact an attribute of Félicia Mallet who was always represented with her big bright eyes, such as in the Pierrot drawing. The present discovery shows another aspect of Vuillard’s art: more spontaneous and expressionist. It demonstrates the creative force inspired to the artist by the actresses and theatre crowd surrounding him early in his career.
This drawing will be mentioned in the appendix of the catalogue raisonné in preparation by Mathias Chivot.