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Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)

Landscape in Normandy, 1920

Known for his intense use of colour, in this canvas Pierre Bonnard presents us with a symphony of blues and greens. Bonnard was inspired by the landscapes of Normandy to revel in a rich palette of colours, having moved to Vernon in 1912, thus becoming a neighbour of Monet, whose home and studio in Giverny he often visited. From the early years of his career, colour had been central to his work. Together with Paul Sérusier and Maurice Denis, classmates at the Académie Julian in Paris, he founded a group of artists in 1889 calling itself the Nabis (from the Hebrew word for “prophets”), which was critical of the Impressionist movement, following Gauguin’s dictum that colour in painting should be used independently of objective reality. These artists drew inspiration from Japanese and ornamental art. Although the Nabis went their separate ways rather quickly, Bonnard remained profoundly marked by this experience, while later developing a style all his own. Whereas the format of Bonnard’s Landscape in Normandy is akin to that of a Japanese kakejiku, or scroll painting, he uses quick brush strokes on the canvas, not unlike those applied by the later Tachist artists, but in the hands of Bonnard this technique results in a work of immense depth, stunning in its varying degrees of luminosity.

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
 

Pierre Bonnard, Landscape in Normandy, 1920. Oil on canvas, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar.

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