Pierre Bonnard 1889 Autoportrait

Pierre Bonnard – Painter

Pierre Bonnard (3 October 1867 – 23 January 1947) was a French painter and printmaker, as well as a founding member of Les Nabis, a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists who set the pace for fine arts and graphic arts in France in the 1890′s.


Bonnard was born in Fontenay-aux-Roses, Hauts-de-Seine. He led a happy and carefree youth as the son of a prominent official of the French Ministry of War. At the insistence of his father, Bonnard studied law, graduating and practising as a barrister briefly. However, he had also attended art classes on the side, and soon decided to become an artist.

In 1891 he met Toulouse-Lautrec and began showing his work at the annual exhibition of the Société des Artistes Indépendants. His first show was at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1896.

In his twenties he was a part of Les Nabis, a group of young artists committed to creating work of symbolic and spiritual nature. Other Nabis include Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis. He left Paris in 1910 for the south of France.

Bonnard is known for his intense use of color, especially via areas built with small brushmarks and close values. His often complex compositions—typically of sunlit interiors of rooms and gardens populated with friends and family members—are both narrative and autobiographical. His wife Marthe was an ever-present subject over the course of several decades. She is seen seated at the kitchen table, with the remnants of a meal; or nude, as in a series of paintings where she reclines in the bathtub. He also painted several self-portraits, landscapes, and many still lifes which usually depict flowers and fruit.

Bonnard did not paint from life but rather drew his subject—sometimes photographing it as well—and made notes on the colors. He then painted the canvas in his studio from his notes.

2 Responses to “Pierre Bonnard – Painter”

  1. rouland jean pierre

    PIERRE BONNARD …un génie trop peu connu de la peinture…une palette de couleurs inégalée avec des nuances de couleurs incroyables qui traduisent avec une rare sensibilité l’atmosphère secrète et vibrante de l’instant . Du grand art … un peintre authentique qui cherche à peindre vrai et qui arrive à transmettre ses émotions les plus intimes rien que par l’artifice (le mot n’est pas péjoratif) génial des couleurs. Sa peinture me touche profondément et je sens un ami qui me chuchote à l’oreille combien la vie peut être belle pour ceux qui prennent la peine de bien la regarder. Merci Pierre, tu n’as pas perdu ton temps dans des discours inutiles, mais tu as su utiliser au mieux le plus bel instrument dont la nature nous a gratifier (les autres sens ne sont pas mal non plus tout de même) : les yeux. [email protected]

    • artboomer

      And the translation via Google Translate :)

      Pierre Bonnard … a little-known genius of painting … an unrivaled color palette with shades of colors that reflect incredible with a rare sensitivity secret and vibrant atmosphere of the moment. Great art … a genuine artist who tries to paint real and happening to convey his most intimate emotions just by artifice (the word is not pejorative) brilliant colors. His painting touches me deeply and I feel that a friend whispered in my ear how beautiful life can be for those who take the trouble to watch it. Thank you Peter, you have not wasted your time in useless talk, but you knew the best use of the most beautiful instrument whose nature we reward (the other senses are not bad either though): eyes .


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