Pierre Bonnard

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The famous and renowned French painter, Pierre Bonnard, was born on October 13, 1867, in Fontenay-aux-Roses. After briefly studying as a law student, Pierre enrolled himself at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He applied for the Rome Prize Competition, however, he could not secure the prize. In 1888, he began studying at the less conservation and contemporary, Academie Julian, where he encountered artists such as Paul Ranson, Édouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Paul Sérusier, and Ker Xavier Roussel.

In the years to come, these six young and aspiring artists formed a deep friendship and began their own artistic group, by the name of ‘Nabis’, which means prophets. Pierre was known as the “the Japonizing Nabi”, a name he earned for his linear, flat and immersive style that gave his paintings a soft ironic touch and a sardonic humor. With works like ‘Woman with Rabbit’, and ‘The Croquet Game’, he presented routine scenes and activities in a unique and delightful manner which captivated his viewers and set his work apart from other artists in his group.

In 1891, Pierre began contributing his work at the galleries of Le Barc de Boutteville and the prestigious Salon des Independants. In 1896, he showcased his work at his first solo exhibition, which took place at the Durand-Ruel Gallery. During this time, Pierre began experimenting with other artistic mediums and techniques, and began developing posters, book illustrations, lithographs, stage sets, sculptures and decorative scenes. Some of his works from this period include, the posters ‘France Champagne’, ‘La Revue-blanche’, ‘L’Estampe et l’affiche’, the book illustrations ‘Marie by Nansen’, ‘Verlaine’s Parallèlement’, and the iconic set of lithographs, ‘Quelques aspects de la vie de Paris’.

Towards the peak of his career, Pierre began to exhibit an inclination towards Impressionist art. His work began feauturing lighter and softer shades, however, his perfection of flat and linear services enhanced and created a more abstract pattern with heightened form distortions. In 1925, Pierre bought a house at Le Cannet, and the effect of his surroundings, especially the Mediterranean light, can be viewed in his works which brought about a sensual and boldly intense emotion.

Some of his best known and celebrated works include, ‘France Champagne’, ‘Nannies Promenade, Frieze of Carriages’, ‘Woman Reclining on a Bed’, ‘Dining Room in the Country’, ‘The Toilet’, ‘Landscape at Le Cannet’, ‘Earthly Paradise’, ‘The Breakfast Room’, ‘The Riviera’, ‘The Terrace at Vermon’ and ‘Two Dogs in a Deserted Street’ among many others.

Pierre had a fondness of painting his canvases not from material and present subjects, but from the power of his imagination and his abilities to remember scenes from his memories. Often, Pierre would make sketches of his subjects and even, photograph them. And then, working in the confines of his studio, he painted the scenes from his memories and the colour schemes and shades from his sketches. In 1926, Pierre Bonnard visited the US, where he was appointed as a member of the jury for the Carnegie International Competition.

Sometime before his death, he produced his huge mural, ‘Saint Francis Healing the Sick’, which was commissioned by the Church of Assy. In 1947, he completed his last painting, ‘The Almond Tree in Blossom’, only a week before his death.

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