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"Entrance To The Garden" - Edouard Vuillard

Updated on November 26, 2014

Entrance to the Garden, Edouard Vuillard

Threshold Experience as Primary Focus

Primarily, the theme of threshold experience is elucidated in the painting Entrance to the Garden,by means of Vuillard's particular usage of central and secondary focus. The painter further expresses his theme in the painting by means of his use of space, symmetry, unity, movement, as well as some prominent elements of form. I will further expend on the significance of these techniques after first imparting a description of Vuillard's theme as one of threshold experience.

By threshold experience, I am referring to that place, or inner state of being, that is a liminal zone. A liminal zone, or a threshold space, is a place that is neither here nor there. In reference to Vuillard's theme, as symbolized in his painting, the entrance (doorway) can be viewed as the threshold space between being inside and being outside. Threshold spaces or experiences are typically symbolic of a turning point, or a change in consciousness. Furthermore, the threshold experience is an experience where one appears to be still, neither here not there. Paradoxically, there is great activity happening on the inner level of one's being and as a result one experiences a transformation from here to there. A transformation either literally, or perhaps a transformation on the metaphysical level. Dusk, twilight, the moments between waking and sleep are also considered to be liminal zones or threshold space and experience. Thus, it is Vuillard's symbolic portrayal of threshold space and experience that, from my own perspective, is the primary theme symbolized by Entrance to the Garden.

Formal Analysis - Entrance to the Garden

Entrance to the Garden, an oil on canvas, was painted by Edouard Vuillard in 1903 and is now in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. of New York. My formal analysis of Vuillard's Entrance to the Garden is twofold. First, from my own perspective, I will analyze the theme portrayed by the painting in terms of threshold experiences. Second, I will attempt to delineate the artist's effect on the viewer as one that does not merely see the painting, but rather experiences it and furthermore participates in it. Furthermore, as a formal analysis of the painting, I will also include some historical and critical elements in relation to Vuillard's Entrance to the Garden.

Mother With Daughter As Secondary Focus

Vuillard's usage of the secondary focus in relation to the primary focus in relation to the primary focus of his painting, can be seen as further reinforcing his theme of threshold experiences. The central focus in the painting is the entrance to the garden - the open French doors, framing the empty wicker chair that overlooks the garden.

This is the threshold space in the painting. The secondary focus is the mother with her daughter, who are occupied together, with a project, in the corner of the room, at the table. The lady is seated on another wicker chair, almost identical to the chair placed at the French doors. The significance of the secondary focus in relation to the central focus can be interpreted as follows: the main action taking place at the table can be seen as a response to the mother's threshold experience while sitting at the wicker chair near the French doors. Thus the activity found within the secondary focus is a response to the stillness and threshold experience of the primary focus, the entrance. The effect of the absolutely still and beautiful garden, while the mother is seated at the entrance or threshold of the garden thus results in the manifestation of the activity found at the table in the corner of the room. The activity is of the nature of harmony, and creativity and inner peace, even while doing their daily activities. A bringing one back to one's center of peace and stillness by means of the threshold experience - and further reinforced by the artist's use of the secondary focus in relation to the primary focus.

The placement of the figures is at the table in the corner of the room. The central focus, the entrance, remains still. Since the figures are placed in the location of the secondary focus, the theme of threshold experiences is further reinforced. The artist may be expressing the idea that activity is secondary and only in response to one's threshold experiences. The viewer then becomes aware of the threshold experience as of paramount importance. As the viewer ponders the dialectical relationship of the primary and secondary focus of the painting, the viewer can go beyond seeing the painting and rather beings to experience and participate in the painting.

Artistic Use of Space

The artist's use of space further reinforces the theme of threshold experiences. The third dimension is created by the artist's depiction of the garden. The garden appears off in the distance as one looks through the French doors. The illusion of a third dimension creates a significant effect. The The effect is that the garden appears limitless, timeless, infinitely large. The significance of the grandness of the garden reinforces the primary importance of the threshold experience, observing the garden's vastness and beauty while at the threshold.

Creation Of Symmetry

The artist has created a composition that is generally symmetrical. The artist creates symmetry by use of color, line and form. The color is in muted tones. The nuance of hue is suggestive of a mood of tranquility. The lines are soft, flowing and graceful. The lines at the entrance to the garden are in contrast, straight and angular. This contrast suggests the primary importance of the entrance or the threshold space. In general the forms blend into one another, creating balance and reflective of a harmony between mother, daughter and nature as found in the garden.


Edouard Villard's painting Entrance to the Garden is classified as an example of French Post - Impressionistic painting. Interestingly, Vuillar's painting is a modified form of Impressionism, known as Intimism. Vuillard, as an Intimist, created the painting as an exceptionally private interpretation of how he saw life around him. Vuillard, in the early 1800's was a member of a your group of painters called Nabis (prophet). The Nabis practised elaborate secret rituals including mystical passwords, and monthly dinner.

Vuillard and the Mystical Nabis

In conclusion, I have presented the theme portrayed in Vuillard's Entrance to the Garden in terms of threshold experience as well as the effect on the viewer as presenting the possibility of experiencing the painting. I have included some historical and critical elements in relation to the Garden. Vuillard, in the early 1800's was a member of a your group of painters called Nabis (prophet). The Nabis practised elaborate secret rituals including mystical passwords, and monthly dinner. The viewer can perhaps link Vuillard's participation in the mystical Nabis group to his painting of Entrance to the Garden. Vuillard, in the early 1800's was a member of a young group of painters called Nabis (prophet). The Nabis practised elaborate secret rituals including mystical passwords, and a monthly dinner. Perhaps Vuillard's painting was in response to his experiences with the Nabi, which would once again further reinforce the theme of threshold experience, as a type of mystical experience, that may be interpreted from his most beautiful painting Entrance to the Garden.


19th and 20th Century Art by George Heard Hamilton
Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers,
New York

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  • Vuillard was born in 1868
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Edouard Vuillard: Painter-Decorator: Patrons and Projects, 1892-1912

© 2014 Deborah Morrison


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