Pierre Bonnard
(Fontenay-aux-Roses, Seine, 1867-1947, Le Cannet)
Woman at her Toilet, ca. 1905
Oil on cardboard, 53 x 51.5 cm
Signed lower right: Bonnard
Dauberville 379
Another picture shape for which Bonnard had a preference is the square. Here again the Nabis depart from Impressionism, in order to give greater emphasis to the picture surface perse. It belongs to a sizeable group of works showing figures in a space, studies whose variations constitute the indispensable equipment of the artist. Here again Bonnard does without spatial depth and puts the chair with the model on it in frontal position before the wall which runs parallel to the surface of the painting. Within this frame, the painter relaxes the rigidity of the theorist Bonnard, in that he gives the subject, drying after the bath, in left profile, in the rich gradations of her posture the shape of a baroque arabesque, continued playfully in the lofty bun and the volutes of the chair, so that the entire complex of designs becomes a kind of rocaille. The rich play of shapes is matched by the rich, loosely applied colour; against the pale blue wall stands the mother-of-pearl of the nude figure with its trickling light and brocade of the chair taken up in a lighter shade by the towel-the severe composition is matched by a chromatic purism.