PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
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PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)

Femme au tub

PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
Femme au tub
signed 'Bonnard' (upper right)
oil on canvas
18 ¾ x 14 ½ in. (47.7 x 36.8 cm.)
Painted circa 1917
M. Laroche, Paris.
Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London.
Anon. sale, Sotheby & Co., London, 1 December 1971, lot 70.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, Paris, 1974, vol. IV, p. 394, no. 02132 (illustrated).

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Lot Essay

A pioneering figure of the Post-Impressionist group, Les Nabis, Pierre Bonnard played a pivotal role in the artistic landscape’s transition from the nineteenth century into the twentieth century. Bonnard is recognized as one of the most secular-minded of the Nabi painters. Many of his contemporaries reflected their spiritual nature with paint on canvas as they pursued religious themes and motifs. Whereas Bonnard sought to explore familiar subjects observed from his urban and domestic quotidian, reflecting the habits of everyday life.
Bonnard once said, “I have all my subjects at hand. I go visit them. I take notes. And before I start to paint, I meditate, daydream [...] It is the things close at hand that give an idea of the universe as the human eye sees it” (Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors).
Known for a range of subjects, Bonnard drew his most ingenious inspiration from people, interiors, and landscapes that existed within his orbit. Exercising his creative sensibilities, Bonnard transformed ordinary spaces into reminiscent atmospheres, anchored at the intersection of his imagination and reality. Although his figurative works are widely present throughout his œuvre, his painterly quality is an integral component, often dominating the picture itself above all else.
At the crux of Bonnard’s gaze and artistic inspiration is his wife and long-term muse, Marthe, who is at the forefront of many of his luminous creations. She can be identified as a central character within many of Bonnard’s domestic interiors. Clothed or in the nude, the artist immortalized Marthe’s youthful form from various perspectives and attitudes.
With its vivacious color palette and thick painterly quality, Femme au tub, is emblematic of Bonnard’s lifelong infatuation and devotion to his wife, Marthe. Quiet but impactful, the work depicts an intimate moment from the couple’s life together. Marthe faces away, kneeling within a bathtub as she is in the midst of bathing herself. The warm, amber hues of her figure seemingly match the bathroom walls in the background, establishing a dazzling pictorial contrast with the gray and blue tones of the foreground.

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