Room 6: Decoration / Rousseau

During the late 1800s many artists developed a renewed interest in the decorative possibilities of painting. Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Edouard Vuillard were commissioned by a close circle of private patrons to create large-scale panels for domestic interiors.

These artists wanted to break away from easel painting and traditional modes of representation, to merge art with daily life. They were influenced by the British Art and Crafts movement and by Art Nouveau. The muted palette of many of their schemes often reflects the tone and texture of fresco painting. Vuillard’s Public gardens, for example, was inspired by medieval tapestries.

Henri Rousseau also worked on a large scale. A self-taught artist, he worked largely in isolation. His work is characterised by flat forms and a certain naivety. Ridiculed at the time, Rousseau’s bold, simple renditions of exotic and dream-like subjects were a major influence on the art movements of the 20th century, especially Surrealism.