In his sober, high-collared garment, the pensive 23-year-old Vuillard might be taken for a civil servant or a clergyman. Only the palette and paintbrushes in his right hand identify him as a painter. The artist’s friend Waroquy, with a cigarette between his lips, looms behind, his facial features and his body rendered more vaguely. Waroquy’s name appears frequently in Vuillard’s journal during 1888–89, although today nearly nothing is known about him.
The dreamlike quality of the picture derives from the fact that it is a mirror image. This is understood by the small bottle at the lower right, which is placed in front of the mirror and is also reflected in it. According to one of Vuillard’s autobiographical journal entries, he posed in front of a mirror in the bedroom of the apartment of his beloved Grandmother Michaud, in the rue de Miromesnil in Paris. (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/488853; more notes on this site under References)