Galerie André Weil, Paris Private Collection, Paris Galerie Rienzo, New York Acquired from the above on December 1, 1999
Jean & Henry Dauberville, Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, 1940-1947 et supplement 1887-1939, vol. IV, 1974, Paris, no. 01819, illustrated p. 197
Throughout his life, Bonnard employed those closest to him as his preferred subject matter, which earned him the title of an intimiste. The present work is likely a depiction of a sleepy summer day at Bonnard’s country home of Le Clos in Le Grand-Lemps where his family and friends would commune (see fig. 1).
Through his involvement with the Nabis , Bonnard had grown accustomed to incorporating decorative elements to his paintings, such as flattened patches of color and bold contours. In La Sieste au jardin, Bonnard employs loose brushwork to add texture to the landscape, blending the human and natural elements blend together seamlessly, presenting an aura of idle serenity.
Timothy Hyman comments, "Bonnard's art could not operate within the vestigial spatial formula inherited by most twentieth-century painters; that shallow shelf, or simplified vertical/horizontal grid, which was the legacy of Poussin and David, via Cézanne and Cubism. In the previously unchartered territory of peripheral vision, Bonnard discovered strange flattening, wobbles, shifts of angle as well as of color, and darkening of tone, penumbral adventures and metamorphoses which liberated him from visual convention. It was as though the central area of fact were surrounded by much less predictable, almost fabulous margins; where imagination and reverie and memory could be asserted as a heightened reality, in impossible intensities of color" (Timothy Hyman, Bonnard, London, 1998, pp. 160-61).
Bonnard’s early twentieth-century work serves as a precursor to the Arcadian landscapes that defined his post-war paintings. La Sieste au jardin displays integral features that allude to idealistic landscapes: “The world that he [Bonnard] captured is a protected, subtle world, with a certain hazy atmosphere, by turns bright or muted like a musical scale” (Véronique Serrano, “He Who Sings Is Not Always Happy,” in Pierre Bonnard: The Colour of Memory, London, 2019, p. 37).
The work is in very good condition. The canvas has been lined and the edges reinforced with tape. The surface is clean and varnished. Under UV light, there are two small spots of inpainting along the top edge. There are some extrememly fine strokes of inpainting along the left edge and in the upper left corner. There is a nailhead sized area of inpainting to the foliage left of the dog. There is a minor area of inpainting in the lower left corner. There is a small area of inpainting to the center of the bottom edge. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.