Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard
Born October 3, 1867
Died January 23, 1947
Nationality French
Field Painting
Printmaking
Works View Complete Works

Born in 1867 in Fontenay aux Roses, France, Pierre Bonnard was inspired by the impressionists, including the painters Paul Gaugin, Jean Renoir and Toulouse Lautrec. His childhood was said to have been idyllic and he gives the impression of having led a fairly untroubled and successful life. Along with paintings, Bonnard also illustrated books, created posters, and designed textiles and theatrical sets.

Youth and Les Nabis

Though his father wanted him to become a lawyer, and he did practice law briefly, Bonnard decided early on to pursue a career as an artist. As a young man he was a member of Les Nabis, a group of young, post-impressionist artists who utilized bold, bright colors.

Though Les Nabis was rather short-lived as a group, Bonnard carried on with their love of vivid, sun splashed colors for the rest of his long life. He exhibited his work along with other works by Les Nabis at the Salon des Ind├ępendants in 1891. His first one man exhibit was in 1896 at the Galerie Durand-Ruel. An exhibit of his Late Interiors was shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the winter and early spring of 2009. Bonnard completed a last painting a week before he died at age 79 in 1947.

Charmed Life, Charmed Work

Bonnard’s paintings are often brightly lit interiors, landscapes , still lifes, windows that peer out on gardens blossoming in the sunshine of the South of France, and vessels full of fruit and flowers. His wife Marthe was often his model. Interestingly, Bonnard drew or photographed his subject, noted its colors, then would paint the subject from the notes he took. Bonnard’s paintings give a feeling of contentment, celebration and playfulness. A picture called Two Dogs In a Deserted Street might evoke feelings of Edward Hopperesque sadness until it’s seen. Bonnard’s colors may be a little more subdued than usual, as they are mostly neutrals, but the feeling is one of peace and quiet. Given how many of the windows are shuttered, the townspeople have all gone in for a siesta. The dogs have the street to themselves, and they’ll be alright. Indeed, the white and liver colored dog recalls a Brittany spaniel, and probably belongs to somebody. He’ll have a cozy place to rest for the night.

Bonnard passed away in his lovely cottage, Le Bosquet, on the French Riviera on January 23, 1947.

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