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  • Pierre Bonnard
    Oct 03, 1867 - Jan 23, 1947
  • Young Women in the Garden - 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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Young Women in the Garden
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  • Young Women in the Garden

  • Pierre Bonnard
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    Oil on canvas
    36 3/8 x 40 7/8 in.

    Jeunes femmes au jardin is part of a series of large decorative compositions that Pierre Bonnard completed between 1900 and 1920. Like the Impressionists, the artist presents an image of countryside leisure, most likely a gathering of family members at “Le Clos,” his family’s vacation home in Le Grand-Lemps. The site was where Bonnard, as a child, indulged in his favorite past time of drawing, and it would become the inspiration and setting for many of Bonnard’s best works.

    Bonnard’s success is derived from a distinctive combination of Realism, Symbolism and Classicism, not to mention the sensitivity to lighting effects and coloration that characterized his style. Bonnard favored nature and leisure as subject matters, yet unlike the Impressionists who championed plein-air painting, Bonnard often created his images from memory. While his compositions are largely dominated by quick, brushy strokes of paint, the delineation of form is at times punctuated by a linear style mastered during the artist’s early years as a graphic artist. As seen in the present work, line, color and form are all dominant elements of the composition, with every last detail expertly crafted to create an atmospheric image of relaxation.

    Bonnard’s personal style is ultimately driven by his desire to challenge tradition while perfecting the art of representation. His lifelong struggle between Realism and idealism is discussed by Nicholas Watkins: “Bonnard’s ambivalent attitude to Monet’s Impressionism, reinforced by the contemporary reassertion of traditional values, brought on what amounted to a mid-life crisis around 1913. His crisis was not so much one of what to paint as how to paint it. Feeling that he has not been sacrificing form and composition to color, he took himself, he said, back to school. He told his nephew, Charles Terrasse: ‘I drew ceaselessly. And after drawing comes the composition, which must be balanced. A well-composed painting is half done.’ Bonnard’s crisis brought to a head a conflict which could not be resolved simplistically because it went beyond questions of style to his very vision as a painter. For the emphasis on form in its turn carried with it connotations of materialism, of a world tied down in time and dominated by objects and human beings, whereas Bonnard was essentially a painter of mood and atmosphere. His solution as it emerged was novel and totally idiosyncratic. Instead of equating color in traditional academic terms with emotion and drawing with the mind, he reversed the process, maintaining: ‘Drawing is sensation. Color is reasoning’” (Nicholas Watkins, Bonnard, London, 1994, p. 134).

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Other paintings by Pierre Bonnard:

Young Woman Sitting
Young Woman Sitting
Young Woman, Blue-green Dress
Young Woman, Blue-green Dress
Young Womwn in an Interior
Young Womwn in an Interior
Young Woman near Lamp
Young Woman near Lamp
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.