Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville have confirmed the authenticity of this work.
A rare gouache, this exceptionally well preserved work has remained in the same family since it was acquired directly from the artist in 1941. Bonnard executed a series of gouaches in the early 1940s, when the French dealer Louis Carré asked him to collaborate with Jacques Villon to create ten colour lithographs (Bouvet nos. 116-126), a medium which had played an important role in Bonnard's early career. Bonnard made the gouaches, which Villon then translated onto the lithographic stones. Although a lithograph directly based upon the port of Cannes was not executed, a related composition was used for the lithograph Port de Pêche (Bouvet no. 117).
In the early 1940s, Bonnard was deeply affected by the death of his long-time friend, the painter Vuillard, who had died in 1940, and by that of his beloved wife, Marthe, who died two years later. He lived a secluded life in his house at Le Cannet in the South of France, a village just behind Cannes.
Though focusing mainly on colours, Bonnard constructed his composition very carefully. The composition is divided in horizontal strips of colours - white, deep blue, purple - punctuated with scattered elements of colours - the white boats, the red roofs, the orange clouds -, which add texture and vibrancy, and capture the effect of the glistening sun setting after a hot day in the South of France.