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Portrait of Leila Claude Anet, 1930

Pierre Bonnard

French, 1867-1947
Oil on canvas
49 x 32-5/8 in. (124.5 x 82.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation
M.1993.1.P
© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

After briefly practicing law, Pierre Bonnard turned to painting full time. Like his lifelong friend Édouard Vuillard, Bonnard began his career exploring the spiritual and symbolic potential of art, and gradually added to those concerns by focusing on the formal qualities of painting, celebrating light and color and structure above all, even subject matter. In this portrait of Leila Anet, commissioned by her father, the well-known writer and collector Claude Anet, the composition is largely straightforward. Anet sits upright in her spectacularly striped armchair, her hand in her lap and her legs modestly crossed, gazing directly at the viewer. Indeed, with regard to content, the portrait is not strikingly different from its mid-nineteenth century predecessors. In style, however, Bonnard remains exclusively in the twentieth century, befitting this strikingly modern sitter. A brown shadow becomes red, a red stripe becomes yellow, each defining depth and form along the way. From the pigment of her white sweater and skirt to the jagged areas on the carpet that spill out of the recess of the fireplace—all are constructed by Bonnard’s harnessing of color and light.

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