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  • Pierre Bonnard
    Oct 03, 1867 - Jan 23, 1947
  • Bouquet of Flowers on a Table - 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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Bouquet of Flowers on a Table
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  • Bouquet of Flowers on a Table

  • Pierre Bonnard
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    Oil on board laid down on cradled panel
    Private Collection, Japan.

    Bonnard wrote in 1943 that throughout his life he, “floated between intimism and decoration” (André Fermigier, Pierre Bonnard, New York, n.d., p. 80). Painted many decades earlier, at the turn of the century, the present work demonstrates Bonnard’s intimité and his ability to transform scenes of the everyday with an appeal all his own. Early in his career he achieved this effect primarily through color (see fig. 1). It has been further noted: “Bonnard shows a preference for expression in terms of color rather than in terms of light. There is no vibration of light in...Bonnard’s work, until 1909-1910...color, for Bonnard, was an end in itself” (André Fermigier, ibid., p. 14).

    Described as the “last of the Impressionists,” Bonnard is often compared to Degas for his similar use of “close in, frequently raised perspective” (Nicholas Watkins, Bonnard, London, 1994, p. 7). Although unquestionably influenced by the group, Bonnard strove to exceed his predecessors’ artistic innovations. Bouquet de fleurs sur une table is particularly emblematic of Bonnard’s keen interest in presenting the familiar subject of domestic spaces in his pre-World War I oeuvre. As noted by the author Nicholas Watkins, “Bonnard concentrated on familiar motifs in order to transcend and imbue with feeling subjects which the Impressionists had treated in a ‘seemingly too objective way’” (Nicholas Watkins, ibid., p. 56).

    The Japanese vase and the Japanese prints fanned across the table call to mind Bonnard's nickname: le Nabi tres Japonard, meaning “the ultra-Japanese Nabi.” Visitors to Bonnard's studio noted paintings by Hiroshige, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi, and Bonnard's well known practice of flattening the perspective and layering patterns within the interiors he favored was directly and powerfully influenced by the ukiyo-e prints that he (and many of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists) loved and collected.

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Other paintings by Pierre Bonnard:

Boulevard des Batignolles
Boulevard des Batignolles
Bouquet de Mimosas
Bouquet de Mimosas
Breakfast, Radiator
Breakfast, Radiator
Bull and Child
Bull and Child
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.