European Art: 19th Century

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The Place Clichy, Paris, 1900

Pierre Bonnard

French, 1867-1947
Oil on cardboard (triptych)
13-3/4 x 38-3/4 in. (34.9 x 98.4 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
F.1969.09.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

In the first phase of his long career, Pierre Bonnard associated with a group of artists called the Nabis, named for the Hebrew word for “prophet.” Influenced greatly by the works of their immediate predecessor Paul Gauguin, this group, which included Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis, among others, intended to strip art down to its essentials of color, surface and form. Like Gauguin, these artists were interested in searching for spiritual inspiration, and Bonnard’s use of the triptych—a format that traditionally housed Christian imagery—is perhaps a step toward this aim. In lieu of religious content, Bonnard’s painting is instead filled with the hustle and bustle of a fin-de-siècle Parisian street. Although his quick brushwork and patchy delineations of horses, carriages and fashionable ladies and gentleman suggest the rapid movement of modern life, the painting encourages contemplation and even revelation long associated with the tripartite format.

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