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

Fleurs des champs, ombelles et coquelicots

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Fleurs des champs, ombelles et coquelicots
signed 'Bonnard' (upper right)
oil on canvas
30 7/8 x 24 ½ in. (78.5 x 62 cm.)
Painted circa 1912
Estate of the artist.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 1965.
R. Cogniat, Bonnard, New York, 1968, p. 52 (illustrated in color; titled Wild Flowers and dated circa 1916).
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1968, vol. II, p. 264, no. 699 (illustrated).
M.S. Young, "Letter from the U.S.A., Bonnard's Inquiring Eye," Apollo, vol. 114, no. 237, November 1981, p. 340 (illustrated, p. 341, fig. 5).
G. Bazin, Les fleurs, vues par les peintres, Lausanne, 1984, p. 33 (illustrated in color).
N. Watkins, Bonnard, London, 1994, p. 167 (illustrated in color, pl. 128).
J.-L. Prat, Bonnard, exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Martigny, 1999, p. 144.
P. Grate and P. Hedström, French Paintings III, Nineteenth Century, Stockholm, 2006, p. 56, no. 351, note 1.
E. Wilson, "Reviews, New York, 'Paul Gauguin, Odilon Redon and The Nabis,'" ArtNews, vol. 109, no. 3, March 2010, p. 107.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Masterpieces in Bloom, April-May 1973, no. 3 (dated 1914).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., The Object As Subject, Still Life Paintings from the Seventeenth to the Twentieth Century, April-May 1975, no. 6 (illustrated; dated 1914).
Tokyo, Nihonbashi Takashimaya Art Galleries; Kobe, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art; Nagoya, Aichi Cultural Center and Fukuoka Municipal Art Museum, Pierre Bonnard, October 1980-February 1981, no. 32 (illustrated in color, pl. 32).
Geneva, Musée Rath, Pierre Bonnard, April-June 1981, no. 34 (illustrated in color).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., The Inquiring Eye of Pierre Bonnard, November-December 1981, p. 22, no. 21 (illustrated in color, p. 58, pl. X).
Madrid, Fundación Juan March and Barcelona, Sala de la Caixa, Bonnard, October-November 1983, no. 21 (illustrated in color).
Lausanne, Fondation de l'Hermitage, Pierre Bonnard, June-October 1991, p. 154, no. 37 (illustrated in color).
Dallas Museum of Art; Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Denver Art Museum, Working Among Flowers, Floral Still-Life Painting in Nineteenth-Century France, October 2014-October 2015, pp. 54 and 160-161, no. 63 (illustrated in color, p. 167).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

Bonnard once stated, “untruth is cutting out a piece of nature and copying it…I take notes. Then I go home. And before I start painting I reflect, I dream” (quoted in S. Whitfield, Bonnard, Fragments of an Identical World, New York, 1998, p. 9). Painted circa 1912, when the artist moved to the small northern French village of Vernonnet, the present nature morte is an example of Bonnard’s shift to a more peaceful lifestyle away from the bustling streets of Paris. Bonnard's move to the countryside narrowed his subject matter to a more intimate milieu, and his work from this later part of his life depicts the quotidian objects found within his home. He once confessed to Pierre Courthion, “When you are young, it is the object, the outside world that inspires you: you are totally absorbed. Later, it is the internal, the need to express an emotion that drives the painter” (quoted in op. cit., 1994, p. 168). Bonnard found solace and comfort in the simplicity of the indoors, as seen in the emotive nature of the darkened interior in Fleurs des champs, ombelles et coquelicots.
A “slave to his sensibility,” Bonnard fell victim to the familiar beauty of his interior paradise (ibid, p. 164). However, his familiarity with the subject matter did not make for a lack of variety in his work. Imagination was at the core of Bonnard’s work ethic. He worked and lived amidst the white walls of his studio, splashed with un-stretched canvases, all in different stages of artistic evolution. He would re-visit the canvases, adding a stroke of color or definitive line as his imagination dictated so. The reworking of this canvas is evident in the shadows of pentimenti encircling the spindly branches of Queen Anne’s lace within the bouquet. The branches seem to sway and fall in different directions as if the bouquet had just been placed down seconds before Bonnard captured it. The stark dichotomy of domesticity and wild vitality is further emphasized by the sensuous tones of the red poppies reflected in the mahogany table, brightened by the impasto of white and yellow. The squat vase allows for the flowers to fall outwards, naturally displayed as if they were still standing out in the meadow. Elizabeth Wilson described Bonnard’s wandering from strict compositional formality when she compared the blossoms to “flares in a nighttime sky” (E. Wilson, op. cit., p. 107).

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