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Andr� Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | Garden in Southern France (Var) [Le Jardin dans le Var]
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Pierre BONNARD
France 1867 – 1947
Garden in Southern France (Var)
[Le Jardin dans le Var]
1914
oil on canvas
51.0 (h) x 57.0 (w) cm
Villa Flora, Winterthur

The layers of vegetation, overlapping and diminishing in size define the spatial illusion of this image. After careful analysis it becomes apparent we are looking through an enclosed frame of bushes from the top left down around the bottom of the canvas and up the right hand side, where the dark feathery shapes of the foliage are cropped by the frame.

The central vista is a U-shaped and dominated by a wedge of lighter ground bisected by diagonal lines and the vertical trunks of a stand of pines, which link the ground with the sky. In the middle distance the Seine flows, with reeds dominating the left section. Above the reeds in the distance a small house can be seen framed by foliage and dominated by the rounded hill.

Le Var, in the South, is the second most wooded department in France. It is also one of the most visited tourist destinations. Painted as it was at the beginning of the First World War it is tempting to read an ominous, congested moodiness into this composition. Bonnard’s paintings from this area two years earlier are warmer, brighter and happier in mood.

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.