The interior is frequently depicted as the domain of the middle-class woman who, with servants to perform the household chores, filled her long, empty days with ‘silent rituals’ like reading, handicrafts or daydreaming.
With their floral dresses and vacant gaze, women of this kind sometimes merge entirely into their surroundings, as in Édouard Vuillard’s Interior with a Hanging Lamp.
Men too appear in Nabis prints, lost in thought behind their newspaper or at the piano.
In addition to the idyllic aspect of the interior as a place of silence and contemplation, printmakers sought to express the disturbing and unstable side of the interior.
The psychology of the time was already representing the human individual as a house, in which all manner of hidden feelings seethed away behind closed doors and shutters.
Debora L. Silverman, Art Nouveau in Fin-de-Siècle France: Politics, Psychology and Style, The Hague, 1989.
Ursula Perucchi-Petri, Intime Welten: Das Interieur bei den Nabis. Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, Bern, 1999.
Peter Parshall et al., The Darker Side of Light. Arts of Privacy, 1850-1900, London, 2009.