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The Terrace at Vernonnet

Pierre Bonnard (French, Fontenay-aux-Roses 1867–1947 Le Cannet)

Date:
1939
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
58 1/4 x 76 3/4 in. (148 x 194.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence J. Gould, 1968
Accession Number:
68.1
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    After first studying law, Pierre Bonnard pursued art at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian (1888) in Paris. There, he met fellow art students Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis with whom he formed the Nabis (1892–99), a group of young painters under the leadership of Paul Sérusier who followed Paul Gauguin's ideas about representing things symbolically in strong patterns and color.


    Shortly after 1900 Bonnard redirected his style of painting to more closely follow the Impressionist tradition, modified by his innate sense of decoration and design. He continued to use light to change the substance and color of form, but he preferred to paint in his studio rather than in the open air and structured his compositions with formal pattern. He so convincingly went beyond the limits of local color and the laws of natural perspective that in the "Terrace at Vernonnet" the boldness of his interpretation is barely noticeable. For example, we read the tree trunk that defines the foreground as a beautiful violet strip as well as a tree, and the foliage in the background merges into a tapestry of color.


    Although Bonnard continued to paint the Paris he loved, he developed a passion for the countryside and the seasons. The daily intimacies of family life add warmth to his art (he was also referred to as an "Intimist"), but there is nothing casual in his presentation. He believed that in landscape the human figure "should be part of the background against which it is placed," and more than any other of the older Impressionist painters he deliberately controlled the viewer's eye. He knew exactly what he wanted us to see, but he didn't want everything in the picture to be evident at first glance — more concentrated looking was expected.


    It is probably Bonnard's last view of the terrace at his house in the Seine valley between Normandy and the Île de France, not far from Giverny, the home of his friend Claude Monet. He purchased the property in 1912 and used it as a subject for his painting until 1939. Elements of his comfortable bourgeois life are in evidence: fruit, wine, company. The gaze of the central figure is rather enigmatic, as is the gesture of the woman at the right. The main figures concentrate on their inner world rather than on their companions or the tasks in which they are engaged. Bonnard painted a shaded corner of the irregularly shaped, raised terrace that surrounded the house. Only a banister indicates the steps that descended to the sprawling garden below. In the painting the terrace serves as a stage, with the garden rising like a curtain beyond. Toward the end of his life Bonnard approached abstraction, increasingly subordinating the subject in order to obtain the desired effects of color and light.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower right): Bonnard

  • Provenance

    the artist (1939–d. 1947; his estate, 1947, inv. no. 345); Mr. and Mrs. Frank Jay Gould, Cannes (1947–his d. 1956); Mrs. Frank (Florence J.) Gould, Cannes (1956–68; her gift to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. Museum of Modern Art. "Bonnard and His Environment," October 7–November 29, 1964, no. 53 (as "Terrace at Vernon [Décor à Vernon]," c. 1930–38, lent by Mrs. Frank J. Gould, Cannes).

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Bonnard and His Environment," January 8–February 28, 1965, no. 53.

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Bonnard and His Environment," March 31–May 30, 1965, no. 53.

    Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art. "Pierre Bonnard," March 20–May 5, 1968, no. 43 (as "Terrace à Vernon," 1920).

    Kyoto. National Museum of Modern Art. "Pierre Bonnard," May 11–June 16, 1968, no. 43.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 15, 1970–February 15, 1971, no. 388 (as "Terrace at Vernon").

    Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 106 (as "The Terrace at Vernon," about 1930–38).

    Kyoto Municipal Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 106.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 13, 1974–February 16, 1975, not in catalogue.

    Leningrad. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 76.

    Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "100 Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 76.

    Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," February 23–May 21, 1984, no. 18 (as "Décor à Vernon [The Terrace at Vernon]").

    Washington. The Phillips Collection. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," June 9–August 25, 1984, no. 18.

    Dallas Museum of Art. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," September 13–November 20, 1984, no. 18.

    Kunsthaus Zürich. "Bonnard," December 14, 1984–March 10, 1985, no. 96 (as "Décor à Vernon").

    Frankfurt. Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut. "Bonnard," May 3–July 14, 1985, no. 96.

    Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 31; as "The Terrace at Vernon").

    Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 31).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895-1950," March 8, 2000–January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (pp. 52–53).

    Art Institute of Chicago. "Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930," February 25–May 16, 2001, no. 57 (as "The Terrace at Vernon" or "Décor at Vernon").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930," June 26–September 9, 2001, no. 57.

    Washington. The Phillips Collection. "Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late," September 22, 2002–January 19, 2003, unnumbered cat. (pl. 88; as "The Terrace at Vernonnet [Décor à Vernonnet]").

    Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Pierre Bonnard: L'Œuvre d'art, un arrêt du temps," February 2–May 7, 2006, no. 51 (as "Decor at Vernon [The Terrace at Vernonnet]").

    Giverny. Musée des impressionnismes. "Bonnard en Normandie," April 1–July 3, 2011, no. 32 (as "Décor à Vernon (La Terrasse à Vernon)").

    Basel. Fondation Beyeler. "Pierre Bonnard," January 29–May 13, 2012, unnumbered cat. (pp. 64–65; as "Décor à Vernon [La Terrasse à Vernon]").

  • References

    Jean-Louis Curtis. "Les Plaisirs de la peinture chez Mrs. Frank-J. Gould." Connaissance des arts, no. 149 (July 1964), pp. 68–69, ill. (color, installation photo).

    Jerrold Lanes. "New York." Burlington Magazine 106 (December 1964), p. 591, fig. 50.

    Marie Pellé. "Les Collections de Florence Franck [sic] Jay Gould." Plaisir de France 34 (January 1968), p. 33, ill. (color, installation photo).

    Theodore Rousseau. "Reports of the Departments." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (October 1968), pp. 92, 95, ill.

    Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 321, no. 388, ill.

    Jean and Henry Dauberville. Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Vol. 3, 1920–1939. Paris, 1973, p. 30, no. 990, ill.

    Henry Geldzahler in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 206, ill.

    André Fermigier. Pierre Bonnard. concise ed. [1st ed., 1969]. New York, 1984, ill. p. 27.

    Sasha M. Newman in Bonnard. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Washington, 1984, pp. 142–43, no. 18, ill. (color) [reprinted in "Bonnard," Kunsthaus Zurich, 1984, pp. 202–3, no. 96, ill. (color)].

    Terence Measham in 20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Canberra, 1986, pp. 30–31, ill. (color).

    Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 82, colorpl. 59.

    Guy Cogeval. Bonnard. Paris, 1993, p. 108, colorpl. 33.

    Joachim Kaak in Pierre Bonnard: Das Glück zu malen. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf, 1993, pp. 70–72, 79 n. 6, fig. 1.

    Anette Kruszynski in Pierre Bonnard: Das Glück zu malen. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Düsseldorf, 1993, p. 41 n. 32.

    Nicholas Watkins. Bonnard. London, 1994, pp. 142, 151, colorpl. 116.

    Julian Bell. Bonnard. reprint ed. [1st ed., 1994]. London, 1998, p. 90, colorpl. 30.

    Timothy Hyman. Bonnard. London, 1998, pp. 114–15, 219, colorpl. 88.

    Grace Glueck. "When One City Was the Heart of Art's Youth." New York Times (March 10, 2000), p. E39.

    Gloria Groom. Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 2001, pp. 192, 194, 196–200, 271, no. 57, ill. (color).

    Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. London, 2002, pp. 69, 266, fig. 83 (color), colorpl. 88.

    Jacqueline Munck in Pierre Bonnard: The Work of Art, Suspending Time. Ed. Suzanne Pagé. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ghent, 2006, p. 88.

    Suzanne Pagé et al. Pierre Bonnard: The Work of Art, Suspending Time. Ed. Suzanne Pagé. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ghent, 2006, pp. 24, 177, 179–81, 318, no. 51, ill. (color).

    Rika Burnham in Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors. Ed. Dita Amory. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 69–70, 75, 140, fig. 54 (color).

    Dita Amory in Bonnard en Normandie. Exh. cat., Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny. Paris, 2011, pp. 22–23, 27 nn. 11, 12.

    Marina Ferretti Bocquillon in Bonnard en Normandie. Exh. cat., Musée des impressionnismes, Giverny. Paris, 2011, pp. 13, 146, no. 32, ill. p. 75 (color).

    Ulf Küster in Pierre Bonnard. Ed. Ulf Küster. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Basel, 2012, pp. 17–18, 171, ill. pp. 64–65 (color).

    Andreas Beyer in Pierre Bonnard. Ed. Ulf Küster. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Basel, 2012, p. 78.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 418, ill. (color).

    Holland Cotter. "Reflections." New York Times (January 4, 2013), Ill. in color, C27.

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