Pierre Bonnard’s paintings at Musée d’Orsay reunite us with an artist so widely admired that he feels like a part of each one of us. He offers us colors finessed to perfection, reflections of his feelings, his life…
In his paintings one finds a charmed life, gorgeous countrysides, beautiful and mysterious women, and yet…
One feels a more subtle simplicity in Bonnard’s self portraits. A fragility appears throughout, shadowed by a certain sadness, his tired gaze in the mirror, slouched shoulders… On the 19th of October 1938, he notes in his journal: “paint a man that resembles Mr. so-and-so.”
Surrounded by Bonnard’s paintings, one feels immediately connected to his art. His subjects are timeless, distilling memories and emotions that are close to our lives today. They’re familiar moments that radiate warmth, washed in sunlight.
Collectors Marlene and Spencer Hays unite the three panels of this beautiful screen. Adorned with Japanese blue herrings and red bambou, it decorates their library in Nashville. (see the Musée d’Orsay’s exhibition catalogue Une passion française – 4/16 – 8/18/2013)
I am also reunited with the influential Misia Godebska, muse of painters like Vuillard, Renoir, Valloton, Bonnard, Picasso… but also writers like Mallarmé, Proust, Cocteau. Like Diaghilev, she is also from the Russian Ballet. Paul Morand once said, “More Madame Verdurin than real,” and Coco Chanel called her “Madame Verdurinska.” She is also Proust’s princess Yourbeletieff in Sodome and Gomorrhe.
Paul Morand: “Misia is placed in the axis of French taste like the Obelisk in the axis of The Champs Elysées”
Misia: “I love to hear extremely intelligent things that I don’t understand very well.”
Misia is very present in Pierre Bonnard’s work. After her first husband Thadée Natanson, creator of the Revue Blanche, Misia remarries as Madame Edwards and lounges the days away on her yacht. She commissions these beautiful pearl-lined panels to decorate her Quai Voltaire apartment. They stand as a symbol of the conflict between Misia and the actress Lantelme, Edward’s 24 year-old mistress that drowned in the Rhine under very mysterious circumstances.
Then, there is Bonnard’s wife Marthe de Meligny, his eternal muse and the love of his life. To Bonnard, she is mysterious, an orphan without a past, perhaps of Italian origin. In reality, however, she is Marthe Boursin (1869-1942), born in Saint Amand. Bonnard passes his life watching her. She, the model, and he, the observer, the drawer, the painter of her and her wardrobe, her baths. Over nearly 50 years, every moment of their life passes under the scrutiny of Bonnard’s painting. How did Marthe put up with it, trapped in the artist’s pincers, her only liberty her secret, her imaginary life…
Upon Bonnard’s death, this secret of Marthe’s family ties a knot in the inheritance of his art. The confusion that ensues allow the prolific collector Wildenstein to strike, in his words, the “biggest deal” of his life. For 1 million dollars, he buys the Bonnard estate. (see the fascinating article from l’Express: “Daniel Wildenstein raconte le testament Bonnard” — http://www.lexpress.fr/informations/daniel-wildenstein-raconte-5-le-testament-bonnard_634497.html).
Translated by Chris Gortmaker, Wesleyan University, Vassar-Wesleyan Program in Paris Fall 2015.
Bonnard: “Live like you’ll never die, is if it’s your last day alive”
N°38 “Bonnard à 24 ans” sold for 960000 € Osenat 29/03/2015
N°38 « Bonnard à 24 ans » sold for 960000 €
Vente Osenat 3/29/2015
Vente Osenat du 3/29/2015 – Collection Antoine Terrasse :
N°38 « Bonnard à 24 ans » sold for 960000 € –
N° 44 « La Promenade » sold for 970000 € –
Bonnard : collection Antoine Terrasse – on sale from March 29 2015 by Mr. Osenat : http://asp.zone-secure.net/v2/index.jsp?id=2637/4313/53767&lng=fr
Pierre Bonnard – Peindre l’Arcadie from March 17 – July 19 2015 – Musée d’Orsay : http://www.musee-orsay.fr/fr/evenements/expositions/au-musee-dorsay/presentation-generale/article/pierre-bonnard-41180.html?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=254&cHash=3bf97287be