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Pierre Bonnard

French Painter, Illustrator, Lithographer, Etcher

Pierre Bonnard was a French painter, book illustrator, lithographer, and etcher, and a leader of the French "Intimiste" school of painting.

La Revue Blanche

He began law studies c. 1885, but abandoned them in 1888 to work for a year at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and at the Académie Julian, where he met Jean Édouard Vuillard (a lifelong friend), Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Félix Vallotton, and Paul Sérusier, all of whom formed the "Nabis" group (Hebrew "Nebiim", "prophets").

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Le Peignoir, Femme vue de dos
Around 1890 - Oil on cloth
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris

In 1889, after he had sold a champagne poster design, his father allowed him to begin serious training. Japanese art and the precepts of Paul Gauguin then preoccupied him; his work was characterized by flat, black-outlined areas of warm, decorative color and simplified forms in the current sinuous Art-Nouveau style.

Humour, allied with keen observation of Parisian life, distinguished his exhibits at the Salon des Indépendants (from 1891) and his illustrations to La Revue Blanche (from 1893).

La Seine à Vernon
Oil on canvas
Coll. Bernheim-Jeune

In 1900 Bonnard's style began to change. His palette became livelier, his brushwork more loose and transparent. He turned more often to landscape and spent long summers in the Seine Valley and southern France.

His compositions, deceptively simple in appearance, often embody tricks of perspective the complexity of which he increased by introducing mirrors.

Femme au chien, 1906
Oil on canvas
Coll Galerie Beyeler, Bâle

For thirty years Bonnard lived with Maria Boursin (known as "Marthe de Méligny") before marrying her in 1925, and she appears in many of his pictures.

Bouver, Francis. Bonnard The Complete Graphic Work (New York: Rizzoli, 1981

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