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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

Plage

Details
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Plage
signed 'Bonnard' (lower left)
oil on canvas
13 3/4 x 24 1/4 in. (35 x 61.7 cm.)
Painted circa 1922
Provenance
Private collection, Switzerland.
Galerie Max Wydler, Zurich.
Anonymous sale, Weinmüller, Munich, 20 July 1961.
The George Schäfer collection, Schweinfurt; sale, Christie's, London, 27 June 1978, lot 48.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
J. & H. Dauberville, Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint, vol. III, 1920-1939, Paris, 1973, no. 1136, p. 129 (illustrated).
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Pierre Bonnard’s Plage is a sumptuous visual hymn to the sea, the beach and the light in the South of France of the early 1920s. Capturing the atmospheric seascape, this painting perfectly demonstrates the rich subtleties of the colourism that was the artist’s hallmark.

The scene comprises horizontal bands of colour, with the warm whites of the beach, the turquoise and blue of the Mediterranean, and above that the various strata of the sky. The two lonesome figures at this beach at sunset, form a witty apostrophe to this focus on this succession of horizons.

Bonnard had already honed his skills as a colourist in the north of France, even before his fascination with the South flowered. Recent scholarship has made much of the contrast that Bonnard explored in his paintings between the North and the South, and between realism and idealism. His ever-increasing interest in the South and its seeming timelessness and endurability had even taken a mythological turn in some pictures, recalling Matisse’s early masterpiece Les Joies de la vie.

It is through this colourist musicality that Plage wields its power, its composition filling it with visual, almost legible rhythms, its various oils meeting in a symphony of expression. This ability to translate with great intensity his experiences or memories through colour had been a constant thread throughout Bonnard’s career. His status as arch-colourist is in part due to his instinctive ability to capture a concentrated, vibrant image of the world through his paintings. He had used this to good effect when he worked among the Nabis; the Nabis did not believe in representing the world directly, but in trying to capture the soul or essence of their subject. Their colours were intense in order to provoke intense reactions and emotions, in short, to transmit experience and not just information. Bonnard had shed his interest in Symbolism long before Plage was painted, yet his colourism is intended to carry out much the same process. Indeed, Bonnard has surpassed the art of his Impressionist and Symbolist predecessors to create a painting that truly transmits the atmosphere and the light of the South.

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