‘Today I saw the first almond tree blooming, and the mimosas are starting to make yellow spots’, Bonnard wrote to Henri Matisse at the end of February 1941 — one artist writing to another, excited by the prospect of the change of season and inspiration for more paintings of nature.
In 1926 Bonnard bought the modest little pink house high up among the trees at Le Cannet that he called Le Bosquet (The Grove). This almond tree was (and still is) in Bonnard’s garden at Le Cannet. ‘Every spring it forces me to paint it’, he said. A very similar picture, which was Bonnard’s last painting — he began it in 1945 and finished it in 1947 — also called Amandier en fleurs and slightly bigger (55.0 x 37.5 cm), is in the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
This is a late painting, devoid of the ambiguous spatial illusions and geometric framing devices of Bonnard’s earlier work. Here we see a central motif controlling the composition. The cropped green bush at bottom right is the only form that suggests space outside the composition. It is as if he has rejected the artifice of his earlier work and has made a painting directly from nature, glorifying in the beauty of a totally natural object — the almond tree in full bloom.