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

La Revue ou L'Exercice

Details
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
La Revue ou L'Exercice
signed, signed with monogram and dated 'Bonnard 1890' (lower right)
oil on canvas
9 3/8 x 12 7/8 in. (23.6 x 32.8 cm.)
Painted in 1890
Provenance
Marie Roussel, Paris.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 1912).
Galerie Georges Petit, Paris.
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 1926).
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 19 October 1926).
Lord Ivor Churchill, London (acquired from the above, December 1926).
Anon. (possibly Lord Ivor Churchill) sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 30 March 1938, lot 13.
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired at the above sale).
Private collection, Paris (by descent from the above, by 1994).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
L. Werth, Bonnard, Paris, 1923 (illustrated, pl. I).
G. Besson, Bonnard, 1934 (illustrated, pl. 13).
L. Werth, T. Natanson, L. Gischia and G. Diehl, Pierre Bonnard, Paris, 1945, p. 12.
G. Besson, "Pierre Bonnard" in Arts de France, 15 March 1946, no. 4, p. 11.
F.-J. Beer, Bonnard, Marseille, 1947, p. 14 (illustrated, p. 45).
G. Besson, Peinture française XIXe siècle, Paris, 1947, vol. III, no. 10 (illustrated).
F. Jourdain, Pierre Bonnard ou Les vertus de la liberté, Paris, 1947, p. 1 (illustrated in color).
J. Rewald, Pierre Bonnard, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1948, p. 16 (illustrated, p. 61; titled The Parade).
R. Soderberg, Bonnard, Stockholm, 1949, p. 17 (illustrated).
H. Rumpel, Bonnard, Paris, 1952, p. 30, no. I (illustrated).
Sammlung Emil G. Bührle, exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich, 1958, p. 145 (titled Die Rekrutenschule).
A. Martini, "Gli inizi difficile di Pierre Bonnard" in Arte antica i moderna, July-September 1958, no. 3, p. 260 (illustrated, pl. 95b).
R. Cogniat, Bonnard, Paris, 1968, p. 9 (illustrated in color).
A. Fermigier, Pierre Bonnard, Paris, 1969, p. 66 (illustrated in color, p. 67).
U. Perucchi-Petri, Die Nabis und Japan: Das Frühwerk von Bonnard, Vuillard und Denis, Munich, 1976, p. 233 (illustrated, p. 30, fig. 1).
G.L. Mauner, The Nabis: Their History and Their Art, 188-1896, New York, 1978, p. 67 (illustrated).
C. Ives, H. Giambruni and S.M. Newman, Pierre Bonnard: The Graphic Art, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1989, p. 7 (illustrated in color, p. 8, fig. 6).
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint révisé et augmenté, Paris, 1992, vol. I, p. 87, no. 10 (illustrated; illustrated again in color, p. 86; with incorrect provenance).
G. Cogeval, Bonnard, Paris, 1993, p. 44, no. 1 (illustrated in color, p. 45).
N. Watkins, Bonnard, Hong Kong, 1994, p. 21 (illustrated in color, p. 19, pl. 9).
J. Elderfield and S. Whitfield, Bonnard, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1998, p. 156.
T. Hyman, Bonnard, London, 1998, pp. 21 and 216, no. 9 (illustrated in color, p. 19; titled On the Parade Ground).
A. Terrasse, Bonnard: Shimmering Color, New York, 2000, pp. 19-20 and 137 (illustrated in color, pp. 18-19; titled On the Parade Ground).
R. Thomson, The Troubled Republic: Visual Culture and Social Debate in France, 1889-1900, New Haven, 2005, pp. 91 and 218 (illustrated in color, p. 92, fig. 76).
Exhibited
Paris, Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, Société des artistes indépendants, 7me exposition, March-April 1891, p. 11, no. 123.
Paris, Galerie E. Druet, Tableaux de Pierre Bonnard de 1891 à 1922, April 1924, no. 6 (dated 1895).
Musée de Lyon, Bonnard, 1954, no. 3 (titled Fantassins à l'exercice).
Special notice

On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.
Sale room notice
Please note the additional literature:
R. Cogniat, Bonnard, Paris, 1968, p. 9 (illustrated in color).
A. Fermigier, Pierre Bonnard, Paris, 1969, p. 66 (illustrated in color, p. 67).
U. Perucchi-Petri, Die Nabis und Japan: Das Frühwerk von Bonnard, Vuillard und Denis, Munich, 1976, p. 233 (illustrated, p. 30, fig. 1).
G.L. Mauner, The Nabis: Their History and Their Art, 188-1896, New York, 1978, p. 67 (illustrated).
G. Cogeval, Bonnard, Paris, 1993, p. 44, no. 1 (illustrated in color, p. 45).

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

Painted in April-May 1890, La Revue or L’Exercice is among Bonnard’s very first, fully realized statements of the synthétiste, anti-naturalist approach to picture-making that he and his fellow Nabis had been promulgating since autumn 1888, when Paul Sérusier returned to the Académie Julian in Paris with a pocket-sized landscape that he had produced at Pont-Aven under Gauguin’s revolutionary tutelage. “Thus was introduced to us for the first time, in a paradoxical and unforgettable form, the fertile concept of a flat surface covered with colors assembled in a certain order,” recounted Maurice Denis, the unofficial spokesman of the Nabi circle, who took their name from a Hebrew word meaning prophet. “Thus we learned that every work of art was a transposition, a passionate equivalent of a sensation received” (“Définition du néo-traditionnisme,” Art et Critique, 1890; in H.B. Chipp, ed., Theories of Modern Art, Berkeley, 1968, p. 101).
This singular, early canvas records Bonnard’s obligatory period of army service at age 22, as a soldat de deuxième classe in the 52nd infantry regiment stationed at Bourgoin, near Lyon. Although his father was a high-ranking official in the War Ministry, Bonnard was a reluctant conscript. One must remember, he wrote from the barracks, that one is more than “a number on the regimental roll and that one once led a life different than that of a brute” (quoted in R. Thomson, op. cit., 2005, p. 218). Here, he exploited the interlocking color planes and unconventional cropping of Nabi technique to convey his subjective experience of the military. The viewer is given the vantage point of a soldier in the ranks, looking over his comrades’ shoulders to the sergeant and another file behind him. The uniformed soldiers are rendered in repeated, flat patches of red and blue, obscuring their individuality and evoking the discipline and pageantry of regimental life.
“By 1890 Bonnard had successfully assimilated the influence of Gauguin’s pared-down, color-rich style,” Colta Ives has written. “L’Exercice, which presents its subject in exemplary decorative array... is a brilliant demonstration of the brand-new abstracted art” (op. cit., 1989, pp. 7-9). Bonnard’s grand-nephew Antoine Terrasse has identified this breakthrough canvas as one of six works—five easel paintings and a multi-panel screen—that the artist exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in spring 1891, his public début on the Parisian stage (op. cit., 2000, p. 20).

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