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

La femme au basset ou Portrait de Marthe Bonnard au basset

PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
La femme au basset ou Portrait de Marthe Bonnard au basset
signed 'Bonnard' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 x 20 1/2 in. (61 x 52 cm.)
Painted circa 1912
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist).
G. Gérard, Limoges (acquired from the above).
Private collection, Rennes.
Anonymous sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 20 March 1959, lot B.
Hervé Odermatt, Paris.
Rachel Breton, France (1965).
Galerie Hervé Odermatt, Paris.
Gaston Schwertzer, Luxembourg (acquired from the above, circa 1985).
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty, 2007.
L. Werth, Bonnard, Paris, 1919, no. 34 (illustrated; titled Portrait de Madame P.B.).
T. Klingsor, "Pierre Bonnard," L'Amour de l'Art, no. 8, August 1921 (illustrated, p. 245).
G. Besson, Bonnard, Paris, 1934, no. 29 (illustrated; titled Portrait).
"Bonnard," Le Point, no. XXIV, 1943, p. 3 (illustrated; titled Portrait de Madame Bonnard and dated 1917-1918).
F.-J. Beer, Pierre Bonnard, Marseille, 1947, p. 97, pl. 77 (illustrated).
F. Fels, L'Art vivant de 1900 à nos jours, Geneva, 1950 (illustrated, p. 131; dated 1917).
T. Natanson, Le Bonnard que je propose, Geneva, 1951, p. 123.
Arts, no. 713, March 1959, p. 14.
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1968, vol. II, p. 244, no. 671 (illustrated, p. 245).
M. Terrasse, Bonnard: Du dessin au tableau, Paris, 1996, p. 108 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Bonnard: Oeuvres récentes, May-June 1913, no. 3.
Munich, Haus der Kunst and Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Pierre Bonnard: Centenaire de sa naissance, October 1966-April 1967, no. 72 (illustrated; titled La jeune femme au basset).
Kunsthaus Zürich, Bonnard, December 1984-March 1985, p. 172, no. 74 (illustrated in color, p. 173).
Frankfurt, Städelsche Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Bonnard, May-July 1985, no. 74.
Humlebæk, Danemark, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Pierre Bonnard, September 1992-January 1993, no. 29.
Kunsthalle München, Bonnard, January-April 1994, no. 55 (illustrated in color)
Luxembourg, Musée National d'Histoire et d'Art, Collections privées au Luxembourg, April 1995, no. 36 (illustrated in color).
Tokyo, Sompo Museum of Art; Kagoshima City Museum of Art and Tokushima Prefectural Museum, Pierre Bonnard, 2004, pp. 82-83 (illustrated in color, p. 83).

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Lot Essay

La femme au basset ou Portrait de Marthe Bonnard au basset is a bold, colorful depiction of two of Bonnard’s lifelong loves: his future wife, Marthe, and a docile dog. Bonnard depicted Marthe seated at a table with the poised pup on her ample lap; she appears to dote lovingly upon the creature like a small child. Marthe has so intimately embraced the dog that their bodies appear merged; in the words of art historian Helen Giambruni, this posture reinforces “the suggestion that woman and animal are integral and somehow related part of a beneficent nature” (“Domestic Scenes” in Pierre Bonnard: The Graphic Art, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1990, p. 44).
Throughout their nearly five-decade-long partnership, from their meeting in 1893 until her death in 1942, Bonnard and Marthe maintained a small menagerie of dogs and cats. These furry creatures often appeared in the background—or, as in the present work, as primary subjects—of Bonnard’s paintings. The artist famously adored animals, having spent a childhood raised amongst pets. Yet it was Marthe who found true comfort with her non-human companions—especially as she grew increasingly anxious and melancholy towards the end of her life, eventually retreating into near total seclusion.
Bonnard’s La femme au basset foretells none of this future gloom. Marthe and her bronze-colored hound are seated against a rich, rosy wallpaper, ornamented with sprigs of violet. The future Madame Bonnard is here dressed in a chic black blouse and a matching cloche hat, which neatly frames her cropped blonde hair. Her monochromatic attire is punctuated by a chunky turquoise necklace—the sort of bold, bright accessory that she seems to have favored. In addition to the rich color, the sensual facture of the painting is quite typical of Bonnard’s style; as the artist once remarked, “The principal subject is the surface, which has its color, its laws over and above those of objects. It’s not a matter of painting life, it’s a matter of giving life to painting” (quoted in N. Watkins, Bonnard, London, 1994, p. 171).
Bonnard painted La femme au basset around 1912, which was a particularly happy phase of the artist’s personal and professional life. The artist’s vivid color palette was undoubtedly influenced by his travels to the Côte d’Azur, where he and Marthe vacationed in the spring of 1912. Bonnard worked for extended stretches of time throughout the south of France in this period of his career, visiting the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the Neo-Impressionist Paul Signac along the way. After returning to Paris in 1912, the artist purchased his own small villa in Verronnet along the Seine River, between Normandy and Ile-de-France. This paradisiacal rural haven provided the backdrop for many of his landscape and interior paintings in the following decades.
This charming painting was acquired from the artist by the dealers at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., who featured the work in a monographic exhibition titled Bonnard: Oeuvres récentes in May-June 1913. In the following century, La femme au basset appeared in a number of international exhibitions devoted to the artist after his death, in Munich, Paris, Zurich and Tokyo, among others. The work finally entered the collection of Ann and Gordon Getty—who also famously loved dogs—in 2007.

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