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Pierre Bonnard biography

Facts about Pierre Bonnard 's life

Pierre Bonnard was born on October 3rd 1867 at Fontenay-aux-Roses near Paris, to a high ranking official in the French War Ministry. After a happy, carefree and enjoyable childhood in 1866 Bonnard enrolled at Paris University to study law. In 1887 he also enrolled in the evening classes at the Academie Julian, a liberal Parisian art School where he befriended Paul Serusier(1864-1927), Maurice Denis( 1870-1943), Henri Ibels(1867-1936) and Paul Ranson(1862-1909). These five friends together founded aq society called NABIIM or the NABIS after the Hebrew word for “prophet”.

On his graduation Bonnard trained himself at the Paris Registry Office as a civil servant. Simultaneously he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a reputed academic institution. It was evident the Ecole did not help in the artistic development of Bonnard. There he made friends with with Ker-Xavier-Roussel(1867-1944) and Edouard Villiard (1868-1940) who were both initiated into the Nabis.

Bonnard won a competition to design a poster advertising a French champagne in 1889. Though it looked revolutionary this poster influenced Toulouse-Lautres(1864-1901) whose posters in the 19th century were done in the same innovative style. Bonnard rented a studio. He exhibited his paintings in the Salon des Independents from 1891.

In the same year he participated in the first exhibition of the Nabis Gallery Le Bare de Boutteville. Apart from doing painting Bonnard designed furniture and textile patterns, painted stage and screen sets, made puppets and illustrated books. Because of the influence of Japanese prints in his work he was nicknamed “Nipponised Nabi”.

He met 16 year old Marthe de Meligny in 1813. Her real name was Maria Boursin, which was unknown to Bonnard. They got married 32 years later. Her presence influenced Bonnards works after that. His works of 1890 were personal and intimate(eg “Indolence(1899)”, “Man and Woman(1900)”.

After 1900 Bonnard started spending more time outside between Paris and Normandy. His landscape works were influenced by the Impressionists Gauguin. After 1906 his one man exhibitions were organized by Bernheim-Jeune art dealing firms who signed an exclusive contract for this.
Bonnard continued to develop his own style enriching the Impressionism. His compositions and brushwork continued to be traditionally impressionistic, close to Degas. The newer style Fauve painting, Cubism and others did not influence Bonnard. His best known works of the time are the panels commissioned by misia Godebska in Paris(1910) and THE MEDITERRANEAN, done for the Moscow residence of Ivan Morozov in 1911.

Even though he travelled before World War I in Europe and North Africa(Spain, Belgium, Holland, England, Italy, Germany, Algeria and Tunisia), these travels did not impact his art. He did not exhibit much during the war. His works were from his happy childhood and there is no trace of 20th century in them.

The tranquillity in his works were far removed from the disturbances of real life. He was made Honorary President of the Society of young French painters in 1918. In 1926 he visited USA. He died in 1926 in his house named Le Bousquet’ at Le Cannet on the Cote d’ Azur.

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