It is this characteristic of his practice that caused Gustave Geffroy to claim, “No one better captures the look of the street, the colored patch seen through the Parisian mist, the passing silhouettes, a young girl’s frail grace. A searching hand moving with simian pliancy seizes the passing gesture, the evanescent face of the street, born and vanished in an instant. It is the poetry of life that is gone, a remembrance of things, of animals, of human beings” (quoted in André Fermigier, Pierre Bonnard, New York, 1984, p. 29; see fig. 1).
In order to achieve this feeling of ephemerality and immediacy in his painting, Bonnard looked to photography for inspiration. He foreshortened, cropped, and lit the sitter in a way that pushes her to the foreground, capturing a snapshot of the moment. For the artist, “the foreground…gives a concept of the world as seen through the human eyes, of a world of undulations, convex or concave” (quoted in Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors (exhibition catalogue), New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009, p. 12). In this way, Jeune fille dans la rue exemplifies Bonnard’s experimental interest in space and search for a spatial link between the realms of canvas, subjective perception, and objective reality.
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