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Pierre Bonnard

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Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer

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Pierre Bonnard
(France, 1867–1947)
Nature morte à la théière
(Still Life with Teapot), 1936–37
Oil on canvas
14 1/4 x 18 1/4 in.
Aaron M. and Clara Weitzenhoffer Bequest, 2000


For much of his career, Pierre Bonnard found inspiration in the intimacy of daily life. Both Bonnard and his colleague Édouard Vuillard earned the moniker Intimistes for their longstanding interest in domestic interiors. The appeal of domesticity originated in their work from the 1890s during their affiliation with Les Nabis. For Bonnard, the charm of the home only intensified after 1925, when he purchased a house he named Le Bosquet (The Grove) in the southern town of Le Cannet. Much of his work thereafter focused on his home, whether images of his wife Marthe or still lifes such as Nature morte à la théière.

Nature morte à la théière follows the tendencies of Georges Seurat and Paul Signac by using prismatic dabs of paint to describe the kitchen still life. Bonnard, who adopted the tenets of Neo-Impressionism in his early career, maintained his commitment to Pointillism for much of his life. He hoped to capture the luminosity of the scene before him, and the collected objects seem to shimmer as a result of his animated application of paint. The artist created a delight for the eye in the disparate forms and colors of the teapot, fruit, pitcher, table, and chair, and he once described his paintings as “the transcription of the adventures of the optic nerve.” In that regard, he also challenged the viewer’s visual acuity by cropping the pitcher, table, and chair at the edge of the canvas, as though those objects exist beyond the peripheral vision.