Pitcher with Flowers


Pierre Bonnard ( French, 1867 - 1947 )

c. 1935
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General Description

Although Pierre Bonnard's work is often thought of as a late manifestation of impressionism, it has a distinctly modern edge. Bonnard commonly painted from memory or drawings rather than directly from the motif, thus allowing his free interpretations and associations to guide the colors and forms. The subjective mood that results is just as characteristic as his love of richly patterned composition.

Still life painting played a central role in Bonnard's late development. For pleasure and diversion from large-scale, ambitious figure and landscape paintings, the artist regularly made smaller pictures of flowers or fruit or tabletop settings. At times, these more "domestic" exercises also served as experimentations in color or structure. Almost always, they show him at his most intimate and direct. In Pitcher with Flowers, a typically lush bouquet sits in a vase well known from other still life paintings, except that here its handle is broken. Visible in areas through the thin skeins of paint is a loose underdrawing in pencil. Throughout, Bonnard's brushwork has a scurrying rhythm as it moves through and around the leaves and flowers, rarely slowing for a larger, smoother form. The space itself seems to be activated in bursts of brilliant light and color. It was partly by allowing the white of the canvas to reflect through the subject that Bonnard achieved so glowing an effect.

Adapted from

Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection (Dallas, TX: 1985), 147.

Fun Facts

  • Pierre Bonnard included this pitcher in at least fifteen paintings.

  • One of the ways scholars have estimated a date for Pitcher with Flowers is based on the container's broken handle. In earlier Bonnard paintings the vessel is shown intact.

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