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Pierre Bonnard in his Studio, c.1900

Pierre Bonnard: 1867 - 1947

Pierre Bonnard was born on October 3, 1867, the second of three children in a conventional, middle-class family. From 1885 to 1888 he studied law in Paris, but on failing his oral examination he took a job in a government office and meanwhile attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

The masterful modernist manipulated light, form and focus to create color-strewn scenes of everyday life. Though the public loved his happily colored landscapes, his well-lit scenes of domestic life, his erotic and classically posed nudes, and his penetrating self-portraits.

Bonnard's first one-man show was held in 1869 at the Durand-Ruel gallery. It was of this that Camille Pissarro wrote to his son: "Another Symbolist has failed miserably. And one whose coming triumph was hailed by (art Critic) Geffroy in "La Journal." All the painters worth anything, Puvis, Degas, Renoir, and your humble servant unanimously term hedious the exhibition held at Durand's of the Symbolist named Bonnard."

Over the past five decades that view has changed dramatically. "So much so," writes Stanley Meisler, "that Bonnard is now widely regarded as one of our century's most complex and masterful painters."

In the 1920's the rich, glowing colors regained their importance while that of drawing deminished. Thus his painting continued essentially unchanged for the rest of his life, the color only increasing in its intensity and luminosity and the composition becoming more masterly in the balancing of tones and textures. Never, however, does the freshness of his perception and his treatment of subject seem to lessen, and the late Southern Landscape, in 1940, shows the glorious richness which Bonnard developed in color and brushwork at the end of his life.

Pierre bonnard died in 1947.

Additional Exhibits on Pierre Bonnard
Pierre Bonnard: A "Nabis"

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