Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Property from the Collection of Frederick A. and Sharon L. Klingenstein
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

Jeunes filles au chien (Deux des filles d’Alexandre Natanson)

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Jeunes filles au chien (Deux des filles d’Alexandre Natanson)
signed 'Bonnard' (upper left)
oil on canvas
39 ¼ x 32 in. (99.8 x 81 cm.)
Painted in 1910
Alexandre Natanson, Paris (acquired from the artist).
Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
Robert de Galéa, Paris.
Christian de Galéa, Paris (by descent from the above by 1961 and until at least 1981).
Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, 26 October 1998.
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, 1906-1919, Paris, 1992, vol. II, p. 185, no. 592 (illustrated; with incorrect cataloguing).
H. Kurita, ed., Pierre Bonnard, exh. cat., Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nagoya, 1997, p. 72 (illustrated; dated 1908).
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Cent chefs-d'oeuvre des peintres de l'école de Paris, 1946 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Chefs-d'oeuvre de collections françaises, July-September 1962, no. 6 (illustrated; dated 1909).
Munich, Haust der Kunst and Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Pierre Bonnard: Centenaire de sa naissance, October 1966-April 1967, no. 90 and p. 165, no. 65, respectively (illustrated; titled Zwei Mädchen, Les demoiselles Natanson and Jeune fille et fillette (Deux des filles d'Alexandre Natanson), respectively; with incorrect dimensions).
Tokyo, Nihonbashi Takashimaya Art Galleries; Kobe, Le Musée Préfectoral d'Art Moderne, Hyogo; Nagoya, Le Musée Préfectoral d'Art, Aichi; Fukuoka, Le Musée Municipal d'Art and Geveva, Musée Rath, Exposition Pierre Bonnard, October 1980-June 1981, no. 30 (illustrated in color; titled Les demoiselles Natanson ou Jeunes filles au chien).

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

In this intimate domestic scene of two girls and their dog, Bonnard’s models were the daughters of the influential arts patron Alexandre Natanson and his wife Olga. A successful businessman and journalist, Natanson was an important collector of Nabi art and—together with his younger brothers Thadée and Alfred—founded the avant-garde literary magazine La revue blanche, which often featured the work of Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton, and Toulouse-Lautrec. Jeunes filles au chien is closely related to Bonnard’s contemporaneous group portrait of all four Natanson daughters—Evelyn, Bolette, Georgette, and Marcelle—in the salon of their grand residence on the avenue du Bois de Boulogne (Dauberville, no. 593). As a dual portrait, the present painting emphasizes the tender, nurturing bond between an older sister—probably Evelyn, then an elegant young woman of nineteen—and the youngest Marcelle, who holds the family pet.
In 1894, Bonnard’s close friend and Nabi colleague Vuillard had created a suite of nine decorative paintings for Alexandre and Olga Natanson, which explored the theme of Jardins publics. These pictures included scenes of children under the trees, girls playing, and their nursemaids chatting, which the Natanson daughters may have inspired. “It is conceivable, indeed,” Gloria Groom has suggested, “that Vuillard designed the project to appeal as much to the Natanson girls as to their parents” (Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis and Roussel, 1890-1930, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago, 2001, p. 123).
Some fifteen years later, the sisters in their maturity represented captivating and rewarding subjects for Bonnard, who—like Vuillard—cherished and celebrated the gentle refinements of intimisme in his art. Bonnard here positioned the two figures so that their gazes form a triangular interchange at the center of the painting: Evelyn looks at Marcelle to her right, Marcelle looks down at the dog as she strokes its head, and the dog stares up adoringly at Evelyn. The composition thus combines two recurring motifs in Bonnard’s painting, children and their domestic creatures, in a harmonious family unit. A lover of both dogs and cats, Bonnard sometimes cast them as “central characters, placed at the heart of the scene in almost human poses,” Michele Tabarot has noted, “or even represented as members of the family” (A Vision of Cats and Dogs: Bonnard and Animality, Milan, 2016, p. 135).

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