In 1925, Bonnard moved to Le Cannet, where he purchased "Le Bosquet", the house where he would spend the rest of his life. Painted in 1927, Le vestibule, shows the entrance hall of the house, with his wife Marthe in the background. Bonnard wrote of his intention "to show what one sees when one enters a room all of a sudden." Le vestibule is not the representation of an event, but a distillation of a memory. Jean Clair summarizes the artist's handling of his subject matter:
"Bonnard's originality, genius and ingenuity came from his understanding that, faced with this elimination of the subject, a way had to be found of capturing its dying flame and, as it were, of painting its slow burning up. In other words, of taking the elimination of the subject and using it as the subject of his own art and as a source of a new bewilderment. If time no longer had any content, then time itself had to be painted. No longer devoted to the recording of aspects of a long-enduring human history....painting now had to depict the very substance in which, for brief moments, our most ordinary actions are played out. Thus, Bonnard effected in painting the same revolution as Proust did in literature, when external events in time ceased to the subject of the novel, being replaced by the inner time of the novelist" (J. Clair, "The adventures of the optic nerve," Bonnard, exh. cat., Washington, The Phillips Collection, D.C., 1984, p. 30).
(fig. 1) P. Bonnard, Aprs le repas, 1925.
sold, Christie's, New York, 14 November 1988, lot 27.