We are grateful to Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville for confirming that this drawing is included in their Bernheim-Jeune Archives as an authenitc work.
A rare gouache, this exceptionally well preserved work has stayed with the artist's family to date and has rarely been exhibited. It is part of a series of gouaches executed by the artist between 1942 and 1946. The French dealer Louis Carré asked Bonnard 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 this particular seascape was not executed, a similar composition was used for the lithograph La Plage (Bouvet no. 121).
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. It is not known where Marine was executed, but it most likely shows one of Cannes's beaches just a few kilometres from Le Cannet.
Though focusing mainly on strong colours, Bonnard constructed his composition very carefully, dividing it in four horizontal strips echoed by the four scattered boats. Strokes of white gouache add texture and vibrancy, and capture the effect of the glistening sun setting after a hot day in the South of France.