Art Moment: ‘Femme a la Rose’ by Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947), FEMME À LA ROSE (1908), Oil on paper laid down on canvas, 63.2 by 47.9 cm.

An acclaimed Post-Impressionist painter and founding member of Les Nabis, an avant-garde group of artists, Pierre Bonnard’s dedication to color and emotions rather than subject helped solidify his place as one of the great artists at the turn of the last century. Bonnard was aware of what Matisse was doing with color and the Cubists with space, but his genius was to absorb their discoveries on his own terms, finding subjects where these abstract concepts could be treated in a naturalistic way.

Painted in 1908, the rich patterning and colors in ‘Femma a la Rose’ reflects Bonnard’s stated intention to pick up where the Impressionists left off and to go further. Here, he uses the dense black of the sitter’s skirt to deliberately contrast with the free and unbroken brushwork of her chemise, a classic example of the manner in which his best works feel traditional and yet completely modern at the same time.

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