Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947) was a French painter, illustrator, and printmaker, who was a founding member of the Post-Impressionist group of avant-garde painters called, Les Nabis. Bonnard’s early work was strongly influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin, and the prints of Hokusai and other Japanese artists. He was a leading figure in the transition from impressionism to modernism.
The Les Nabis group, of which Bonnard was a key member, was a collection of young French artists active in Paris from 1888 until 1900. They played a key part in the transition from impressionism to abstract art, symbolism, and the other early movements of modernism. These artists had a shared admiration for Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne and a determination to renew the art of painting but varied greatly in their styles.
Additionally, Japanese art played an essential part in Bonnard’s work. Japanese works by Hokusai and other printmakers were published in a monthly French art journal, which offered color illustrations of 1891. In 1890 an important exhibition in Paris of seven hundred prints, from Japan, was studied and used by Bonnard.
A Tour of Pierre Bonnard’s Art
- Pierre Bonnard’s Les Nabis’s Art
- Women with a Dog
“Women with a Dog” by Pierre Bonnard shows his sister and cousin playing with the family dog in a garden, with three figures behind them. Bonnard compressed the space and simplified the forms, especially the women’s clothing.
Japanese prints inspired the checked blouse, and he experimented with outlines shaped in pencil and ink, occasionally scratching them into the paint. These decorative styles were pursued by the Le Nabis group of young painters, with whom Bonnard work with until 1900. Museum: Clark Art Institute
Dancers by Pierre Bonnard depicts a high-angle view on a ballet with a dream-like quality. The dancers fill the stage in lines, with each group executing a different dance step. The focus, the colors, and the cloud-like quality of the ballerina’s tulle give the impression that the figures are floating above the stage.
Rather than observe and reproduce the world around him, Bonnard sought to instill each picture with “a beauty outside nature.” Bonnard also collaborated with the Russian and Swedish Ballet to design décors as well as a poster. Thus Bonnard may have had the opportunity to observe a ballet from a bird’s eye view. Museum: Musée d’Orsay
- Women with a Dog
- Artist: Pierre Bonnard
- Born: 1867, Fontenay-aux-Roses, Hauts-de-Seine, France
- Died: 1947 (aged 79), La Route de Serra Capeou, Le Cannet, French Riviera, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Post-Impressionism, Nabis, Intimism
- Notable works:
Famous French Artist You Should Know
- Georges de La Tour (1593 – 1652)
- Nicolas Poussin (1594 – 1665)
- Élisabeth Sophie Chéron (1648 – 1711)
- François Boucher (1703 – 1770)
- Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732 – 1806)
- Jacques-Louis David (1748 – 1825)
- Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780 – 1867)
- Eugène Delacroix (1798 – 1863)
- Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899)
- Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 – 1904)
- Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903 )
- Édouard Manet (1832 – 1883)
- Edgar Degas (1834 – 1917)
- Paul Cézanne (1839 – 1906)
- Auguste Rodin (1840 – 1917)
- Claude Monet (1840 – 1926)
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919)
- Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895)
- Henri Rousseau (1844 – 1910)
- Gustave Caillebotte (1848 – 1894)
- Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903)
- Jean Béraud (1849 – 1935)
- Georges Seurat (1859 – 1891)
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864 – 1901)
- Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947)
- Artists and their Art
- Famous French Artist You Should Know
Pierre Bonnard Quotes
A painting that is well composed is half-finished.
One always talks of surrendering to nature. There is also such a thing as surrendering to the picture.
Draw your pleasure, paint your pleasure, and express your pleasure strongly.
You cannot possibly invent painting all by yourself.
The important thing is to remember what most impressed you and to put it on canvas as fast as possible.
I should like to present myself to the young painters of the year 2000 with the wings of a butterfly.
Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.
I am just beginning to understand what it is to paint. A painter should have two lives, one in which to learn, and one in which to practice his art.
- “I am just beginning to understand what it is to paint. A painter should have two lives, one in which to learn, and one in which to practice his art.” – Pierre Bonnard
“The precision of naming takes away from the uniqueness of seeing.”
– Pierre Bonnard
Photo Credit: Pierre Bonnard [Public domain]