Pierre Bonnard
(Fontenay-aux-Roses, Seine, 1867-1947, Le Cannet)
Interior, ca. 1905
Oil on canvas, 59.5 x 40.5 cm
Signed lower left: Bonnard
Dauberville 344
Ever since his early Japanese period, Bonnard had loved the vertical format derived from the silk-scroll painting, and frequently employed it in his work, particularly for screens and mural decorations. It compels a succinct, disciplined surface articulation. In "Interior", the shape is especially emphasized by the slender mirror framed in a narrow wooden fillet. This mirror can be seen in the portrait of Vollard (now in the Kunsthaus Zurich) as well as in many studies done around 1905; it hangs in a bare studio, such as Bonnard preferred. Within this high vertical shape the picture is built up of staggered layers running parallel to the picture surface; in the right foreground sits the young woman, Marthe, later to become the wife of the artist. The figure is cast in shadow, and does not distract from the mirror, the main agent of the picture, since it breaks through the quiet parallelism by disclosing the diagonal windows and a view on to rooftops. Not to be overlooked is the function of the empty wall with its differentiated, delicate greytone, in a picture that is restricted to grey tones. More vivid colours appear scantily only in the red of the blouse and the pale blue of the kerchief.