Lot 39
  • 39

Pierre Bonnard

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Description

  • Pierre Bonnard
  • Paysage du Cannet
  • Signed Bonnard (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas

Provenance

G. Kapferer, Boulogne-Billancourt

Aimé Maeght, Paris (acquired from the above in the 1950s)

Adrien Maeght, Paris

Richard Feigen, New York (purchased from above in 1997)

Acquired from the above

Exhibited

Saint-Paul, Fondation Maeght, Bonnard dans sa lumière, 1975, no. 42

Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou; Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.;  Dallas Museum of Art, Bonnard: The Late Paintings, 1984, no. 38

Zürich, Kunsthaus; Frankfort, Stadtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut, Bonnard, 1984-85, no. 118

Paris, Galerie Maeght, Couleurs, 1986

Bordeaux, Galerie des Beaux-Arts, Hommage à Bonnard, 1986, pl. 64

Milan, Palazzo Reale, Pierre Bonnard, 1988, no. 31

Hovikodden, Fondation Sonja Henie Niels Onstad, Hommage à France, 1988, no. 5 

Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum, Bonnard, 1992-93, no. 83 

Düsseldorf, Kunsthammlung, La bonheur de peindre, 1993

Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Bonnard, 1994, pl. 114

Newcastle, Laing Art Gallery, Bonnard, 1994, no. 5

Yokohama Museum of Art; Tokoha Museum of Art; Chiba ,Sogo Museum of Art; Hokkaido, Obihiro Museum of Art; Hokkaido, Asahikawa Museum of Art, Akita, Museum of Modern Art, La collection Maeght, 1994-95, no. 30

Basel, Kunsthalle, Canto d'amore, 1996, no. 5

Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art; Tokyo, The Bunkamura Museum of Art, Bonnard, 1997, no. 35

Literature

André Lhote, Bonnard, Seize peintures, Paris, 1948, illustrated pl. III-IV

Thadée Natanson, Le Bonnard que je propose, 1867-1947, Geneva, 1951, illustrated pl. 76

Jean and Henry Dauberville, Bonnard, 1940-1947 et Supplément 1887-1939, vol. 3, Paris, 1974, no. 1396, illustrated p. 319

Nicholas Watkins, Bonnard, London, 1994, no. 122, illustrated p. 158

Catalogue Note

By the time he painted Paysage du Cannet in 1928, Bonnard was widely celebrated among the avant-garde, and his paintings were sought after by prominent collectors in America and Europe. In 1926, he bought the Villa du Bosquet above Le Cannet, where he remained for the rest of his life. Bonnard's new estate commanded a magnificent view over the bay of Cannes and the mountains of the Esterel.  The lush surroundings and the dazzling light that reflected off the water inspired some of Bonnard's most monumental landscapes, including Paysage du Cannet.  This large-scale composition depicts the grounds of the villa as seen from a higher point of elevation.

The landscapes that Bonnard painted in the late 1920s, including the present work and another composition of a similar view (see fig. 1), marked a turning point in the artist's style.   As Nicholas Watkins explains,  "Bonnard's art was always very much based on reality, but a distinction can be made between his northern and southern landscapes:  whereas in the former he was more concerned with capturing the transient effects of weather, in the latter the permanence of atmosphere drew him into an alternative Mediterranean vision of a classical Golden Age.  Cézanne and Renoir, rather than Monet, became his mentors in the south.  The greens of his first terrace decoration at Vernonnet gave way to the pervasive golden light of his two main southern decorations of the 1920s, La Palme, 1926 (see fig. 2) and Paysage du Cannet, 1928" (Nicholas Watkins, op. cit., p. 156).

Through his involvement with the Nabis at the beginning of the century, Bonnard had grown accustomed to using decorative stylistic elements in his paintings, such as flattened patches of color and bold contours.  In his depictions of the southern French landscape, his use of this technique was extraordinarily effective in conveying the variations in the terrain.  In the present work, he uses interlacing patches of color to form the mountain range, the dense forest and the small town in the distance. Watkins writes, "Bonnard was struck by the architectural nature of the vegetation in the south, suggesting a way of dealing with the view from Le Cannet in both paintings and drawings through poetic correspondences across the landscape. . . . Bonnard's solution to the problem of reconciling depth with the decorative assertion of the surface in the painting was to treat the landscape as a kind of tapestry into which the view was woven" (ibid., p. 156).

Resonant in this panorama is a sensitivity to the idealized landscapes of eighteenth century painting. Bonnard offers here an idyllic interpretation of the bay of Cannes and the grand mountain range that surrounds it.    The composition, with its Rococo-inspired stylization, calls to mind the paintings of  Watteau, such as Embarkation for the Island of Cythera, 1717 (see fig. 3).  As if mystified by his own backyard, Bonnard has transformed the contemporary landscape of Le Cannet into a classical paradise, complete with symbols of the Greco-Roman age.  Watkins elaborates on this point: "In Paysage du Cannet, the view from behind the house, Le Bosquet, is opened up in a panorama of the surrounding hills.  A Virgilian shepherd, looking remarkably like Bonnard himself, reclines in the right-hand corner of the golden foreground with his sheep.  The message is clear:  Le Cannet is classic ground and the purpose of the decorations is to continue the theme of Symphonie pastorale (see fig. 4) and unite the past with the present in a harmonious vision of the Golden Age" (ibid., p. 156).

Fig. 1, Pierre Bonnard, Paysage du Cannet, 1928, charcoal on paper, whereabouts unknown COMP: 139NY8125

Fig. 2, Pierre Bonnard, La Palme, 1926, oil on canvas, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. COMP: 142NY8125

Fig. 3, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Embarkation for the Island of Cythera, 1717, Musée du Louvre, Paris COMP: 141NY8125

Fig. 4, Pierre Bonnard, La Symphonie pastorale, 1916-20, oil on canvas, Private Collection COMP: 140NY8125

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