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Andr� Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | Pleasure: Decorative Panel, or Games [Le Plaisir: Panneau décoratif ou Les Jeux]
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Pierre BONNARD
France 1867 – 1947
Pleasure: Decorative Panel, or Games
[Le Plaisir: Panneau décoratif ou Les Jeux]
c. 1906
oil on canvas
246.0 (h) x 300.0 (w) cm
Private collection
Answer the following questions:
  1. How many people can you find in the painting?
    What are the two foreground figures doing?
  2. In what ways has Bonnard created an illusion of deep space in this painting?
    Where is the horizon?
  3. Find two ways in which Bonnard encloses the space.
  4. How many elements of civilisation are to be found in the work?
    Does the painting suggest that the ‘pleasure’ of its title is to be found in nature?

This is one of four panels painted to decorate the Paris apartment of Misia and Alfred Edwards. The other three panels, Travel, Play I and Study, contain similar mythological characters and animals in an imaginary landscape. The four panels were exhibited at the 1910 Autumn Salon in Paris.

In the early 1900s Bonnard began to use brighter colours than before and his compositions became more complex. This large painting (3 metres long) is more like a mural than an easel painting. Bonnard had painted stage sets in the early 1890s and this experience would have helped him create works like Pleasure where an illusion of receding space is suggested — by the frame, by the different sizes of figures, and by a distant gateway.

The girls with fluttering drapery suggest a classical frieze, while the monkeys and other animals in the curving frame refer to the fashion for fanciful Rococo ornamentation in Paris at the turn of the century. These decorative panels were created to blend with furniture of this style in Misia and Alfred’s apartment.

The Nabis, a group of artists of which Bonnard was a founding member in 1888, believed that the decorative arts were as important creatively as easel painting.

Article authored by the NGA Education department
Introduction | Gallery | Literature | Chronology | Glossary | Education Kit
The Pierre Bonnard works on this page are reproduced with the permission of
ADAGP, Paris and VISCOPY Ltd, Sydney 2003.