PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
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The Phillips Family Collection
PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)

Bord de mer, pins et rochers rouges

PIERRE BONNARD (1867-1947)
Bord de mer, pins et rochers rouges
stamped with signature 'Bonnard' (Lugt 3886; lower left)
oil on canvas
37 ¾ x 28 ½ in. (96 x 72.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1923
Estate of the artist.
Wildenstein & Co. Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 1963).
Acquired from the above by the Phillips family, 17 April 1964.
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, 1920-1939, Paris, 1973, vol. III, p. 153, no. 1171 (illustrated, p. 152).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art; The Art Institute of Chicago and Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bonnard and His Environment, October 1964-May 1965, pp. 88 and 109, no. 68 (illustrated in color; titled Mediterranean Coast and dated circa 1943).
New York, Salander-O'Reilly Galleries, Pierre Bonnard: Landscapes, November-December 1997, no. 6.
Further details
After the pre-sale exhibition, this lot will be transferred to storage in Delaware and will be available for shipment from Delaware. Please note that title to the lot will transfer to the buyer in accordance with the Conditions of Sale while the lot is in storage in Delaware. Contact Christie’s Client Service team at +1 212 636 2000 for further details.

Brought to you by

Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-Head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Pierre Bonnard’s Bord de mer, pins et rochers rouges combines the intense, vibrant hues of the Côte d’Azur with the bold, rhythmic brushwork, perfectly characteristic of the last quarter-century of the artist’s career. This iridescent landscape was featured in the iconic traveling exhibition of 1964-1965, Bonnard and his Environment. It now comes to auction after more than fifty years in the Phillips Family Collection.
Bonnard began to explore the South of France more intently in the 1920s, while in his mid-fifties. Following in the footsteps of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists who came before him, Bonnard was utterly seduced by the lush, paradisiacal seascape he discovered there. In 1925—a few years after the execution of the present work—Bonnard purchased a home in Le Cannet, a hillside town overlooking the city of Cannes on the Mediterranean Sea, where he spent the final decades of his life.
During this mature phase of his career, Bonnard painted many domestic interior scenes, representing both figurative and still-life compositions. Yet he was also captivated by the topography of southern France, with its rolling hills, rocky cliffs and pristine waters. During his frequent trips to the area, Bonnard roamed the coast, immersing himself in this lush environment; he then returned to his studio to interpret his experience of the landscape in paint.
Bord de mer, pins et rochers rouges represents a dreamy, vertiginous view of the sea. This dazzling vista, glimpsed from an elevated vantage point, is resplendent with color and light. The turquoise, azure and violet-colored water of the sea below, framed by the rose-colored pine trees, is punctuated by large rock formations, which glow like volcanic lava in the hot afternoon sun. This joyful, radiant color palette suggests the enduring influence of Fauvist masters like Henri Matisse, whose work Bonnard first encountered in Paris several decades earlier. Matisse’s rich, saturated hues—on display in the Paysage près de Collioure (étude pour La Joie de vivre), for example—continued to inspire Bonnard’s work throughout his career.
The flattened perspective and dappled, variegated surface of the water in this painting also recalls the artist’s own early work. As a key member of the avant-garde Nabis group at the turn of the twentieth century, Bonnard experimented with ornamental, decorative patterns, arranged in jarring juxtaposition. In the present work, however, he rejects stiff formal pattern and instead embraces the wild harmonies of nature. Bonnard’s work is animated by fluid, expressive brushstrokes and bold, uninhibited surges of kaleidoscopic, nearly hallucinatory color. For the artist, this lively painterly dynamic was much more important than the accurate representation of the landscape, declaring: “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).
Bord de mer, pins et rochers rouges remained with the artist until his death at Le Cannet in 1947. This work, along with a number of others from the artist’s contested estate, was seen by the public for the first time in a major survey entitled Bonnard and His Environment. This exhibition traveled to venues across the United States in 1964 and 1965—from The Museum of Modern Art in New York to The Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. This painting bolstered the curators’ argument that “Bonnard was essentially a colorist. He devoted his manic creative energies to wedding his sensations of color from nature to those from paint itself—sensations which he said thrilled and even bewildered him… As time went on, Bonnard became increasingly daring and original in his use of intense colors and turned it to new expressive ends” (Bonnard and His Environment, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1964, p. 25).

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