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  • Pierre Bonnard
    Oct 03, 1867 - Jan 23, 1947
  • On a Boat (The Promenade at Sea) - Pierre Bonnard was a French painter who helped provide a bridge between impressionism and the abstraction explored by post-impressionists. He is known for the bold colors in his work and a fondness for painting elements of everyday life, member of the group of artists called the Nabis and afterward a leader of the Intimists; he is generally regarded as one of the greatest colourists of modern art.
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On a Boat (The Promenade at Sea)
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  • On a Boat (The Promenade at Sea)

  • Pierre Bonnard
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    circa 1924
    Oil on canvas

    En Bateau, La Promenade en Mer, circa 1924, is an exquisite example of Bonnard’s extraordinary mastery of color, light and atmosphere, but above all it exemplifies his very particular ability to capture the charming intimacy of daily family life. Bonnard executed very few portraits in the traditional sense, preferring that his figures be placed within some larger pictorial context: "the starting point for any creative urge was often an emotion, a striking interplay of light, colours, shapes or movements that he found expressive or charming" (Margrit Hahnloser-Ingold, in Bonnard, London, 1984, p. 72). In the majority of the titles for these works, Bonnard gave no indication of the names of the people depicted, as if not wanting to detract from his main artistic preoccupation which had more to do with light, space, color and atmosphere. The present work depicts three generations of his family enjoying the invigorating sea air on a boat trip: the artist’s obsession with light made the reflective qualities of water extremely appealing, and boats themselves were particularly interesting for the compositional framing possibilities offered by their many ropes, masts and internal structures. Indeed, the viewpoint employed by Bonnard in the present work is one of undeniable modernity: the close confines of the boat mean that the figures are pushed right up against the picture plane, and it is this closeness that gives the painting its strong feeling of immediacy.

    The stunning palette of the present work deserves particular mention. The beautiful blues and purples complement the yellow clothes of the right-hand figure, echoed again in the bright yellow strip of the beach in the background. It is clearly a blustery day, but a bright one too, full of vitality and energy, a feeling very much reflected in the dynamic waves and dramatic clouds.

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Other paintings by Pierre Bonnard:

Nude, Red Chair
Nude, Red Chair
Nudes Reflecting in an Ice
Nudes Reflecting in an Ice
On the Street, Two Figures
On the Street, Two Figures
On the Track
On the Track
Pierre BonnardPierre Bonnard was a French Post-Impressionist painter remembered for his ability to convey dazzling light with juxtapositions of vibrant color. “What I am after is the first impression—I want to show all one sees on first entering the room—what my eye takes in at first glance,” he said of his work. Born on October 3, 1867 in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France, Bonnard studied law at the Sorbonne, graduating in 1888. During this time, he was also enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts but left to attend the Académie Julian in 1889. At this more open-minded painting academy, Bonnard met Maurice Denis, Paul Sérusier, and Édouard Vuillard, among others. Together with these artists he helped from a group known as the Nabis, who were influenced by Japanese prints and the use of flat areas of color. Early on in his career, Bonnard was better known for his prints and posters than for his paintings. Moving to the South of France in 1910, over the following decades, Bonnard receded from the forefront of the art world, mainly producing tapestry-like paintings of his wife Marthe in their home. Late works of Bonnard, such as The Terrace at Vernonnet (1939), more closely resembled a continuation of Impressionism than other avant-garde styles of the era. Because of this, at the time of his death on January 23, 1947 in Le Cannet, France, the artist’s work had been largely discounted as regressive. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, and the Tate Gallery in London, among others.