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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy)

Details
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy)
signed 'Bonnard' (lower right)
oil on canvas
22 7/8 x 18 1/2 in. (58 x 47 cm.)
Painted in 1904
Provenance
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (no. 20856), by whom acquired from the artist in 1904.
Lucien Sauphar, Paris, by whom acquired from the above.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1917.
Henri Canonne, Paris; sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 18 February 1939, lot 16.
Raphaël Gérard, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Galerie Louis Manteau, Brussels.
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owners in March 1958.
Literature
La Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot, 21 February 1939.
J. & H. Dauberville, Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. I, 1888-1905, Paris, 1973, no. 312, p. 286 (illustrated p. 287).
Exhibited
Amsterdam, E.J. van Wisselingh & Co., Exposition de peinture française: Bonnard, Boudin, Corot, Daubigny, Degas, Fantin Latour, Forain, Gauguin, van Gogh, Jongkind, Monet, Monticelli, Pissarro, March - April 1940, no. 1 (illustrated; titled 'Paris, Boulevard extérieur').
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, L'Ecole de Paris dans les collections belges, July - October 1959, no. 9.
Paris, Musée du Carnavalet, Paris vu par les maîtres, de Corot à Utrillo, March - May 1961, no. 6.
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Pierre Bonnard, centenaire de sa naissance, October 1966 - January 1967, no. 34; this exhibition later travelled to Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, January - April 1967, no. 43.
Marcq-en-Baroeul, Fondation Anne et Albert Prouvost, Bonnard, April - July 1978.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

‘His friends crossed the whole history of art to express themselves; he simply went to his window without even crossing the street. They stuffed themselves with lofty thoughts, Bonnard looked at all ideology with horror. Some of them went searching for the Middle Ages in Brittany, others travelled in Italy, he spoke in French to the wandering dogs of the boulevards, to the emaciated horses, to frail Parisian women and it is him whom we listen to’ (J. de Laprade, quoted in Bonnard, exh. cat., Martigny, 1999, p. 60).

Capturing a quintessentially Parisian scene in 1904, Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy) belongs to a series of cityscapes Pierre Bonnard executed in the early 1900s. At the time, the artist was living in rue Douais, a street away from the Moulin Rouge and the bustling nightlife of Pigalle. The area provided a profound source of inspiration for Bonnard, who painted the Place and Boulevard de Clichy a number of times. Portrayed as though glimpsed from a window, Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy) expresses Bonnard’s fascination for the spectacle of modern life that the streets of Paris offered at the beginning of the century.

Depicting a rainy day on a Parisian boulevard, Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy) illustrates Bonnard’s talent in capturing evocative light effects and in turning seemingly simple, daily scenes into intricate, dynamic compositions. The painting is centred on the reflection of artificial light on the wet pavement, reverberating like a luminous mirror in the middle of the wintry greys and icy blues of the city. While a few black silhouettes, tilted against the wind and rain, hustle in the foreground, the bright light in the centre of the composition evokes the warmth and energy of a café, which is echoed in a few windows above and beyond.

To Bonnard, scenes of modern life as depicted in Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy) constituted a fascinating, exciting subject. Since Charles Baudelaire had celebrated the modern artist as a flâneur in his essay Le peintre de la vie moderne in 1863, urban life had become a favourite subject among the Parisian Avant-garde. Bonnard himself was a passionate flâneur: preceding breakfast, his day would start with a stroll through Paris (U. Perucchi-Petri, ‘Le paysage des grandes villes: Rues, places et jardins publics’, pp. 75-87, in Nabis 1888-1900, exh. cat., Paris, 1994, p. 75). In 1899, the artist had completed a series of lithographs on the theme of Parisian life for Ambroise Vollard, who published them under the title Quelques aspects de la vie de Paris. Bonnard had found this experience invaluable. Bonnard explained: ‘Making colour lithographs taught me a great deal about painting. When one is forced to study the relationships between tones, playing with only four or five different colours that can be superimposed and juxtaposed one discovers many things’ (quoted in A. Terrasse, Pierre Bonnard, Paris, 1967, p. 44). Paysage parisien (Boulevard de Clichy) may owe something to Bonnard’s experience in lithographs: surrounded by the muted tones of the grey city, the brilliance of the light elicits an all the more vibrant, enthralling spell.

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