By 1905, Bonnard was recognized as one of the most successful painters of his generation. He had built his reputation on the popularity of his interiors, which often depicted women occupied in their daily routine. "Bonnard, like his friend Vuillard, found congenial subjects in his domestic surroundings; he became a painter of intimité, able to invest the ordinary stuff of daily life with fresh magic. His talent [is] for delighting in themes that surround us, but which do not always appear pleasurable" (D. Sutton, Pierre Bonnard, exh. cat., London, 1966, p. 15).
Nu debout, de profil is typical of Bonnard's post-Nabis portraits and interiors from the early 1900s. There are touches of intimisme in his approach but in terms of its technique--the short brushstrokes, the light tonal values, the subtle color combinations--it is possible to see Bonnard's gradual rapprochement with Impressionism and, in his compositions, with the works of Edgar Degas. As Steven Nash points out, "the use of a close-in and frequently raised perspective, the cropped and oddly angled views, and the concentration on habitual, non-academic, unselfconscious gesture link the two artists in their search of an intimacy and freshness of presentation" (in Bonnard, exh. cat., The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., 1984, p. 20).
Bonnard's painting was less concerned with depicting a narrative than with intimating a mood. Unlike the Impressionists who strove for immediacy in the work, Bonnard's paintings were not painted in situ but were constructed from memory in his studio, often with the aid of photographs. The subjects of his paintings can be understood as mediations on the people, places and things that surrounded him. It is likely that the model in the present painting is Marthe de Meligny, whom he married in 1925.