Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

Ciel d'orage sur Cannes

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Ciel d'orage sur Cannes
oil on canvas
20½ x 29¼ in. (52 x 74.2 cm.)
Painted in 1945
Charles Terrasse, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
P. Bonnard, 'Couleur de Bonnard', in Verve, vol. V, Paris, 1947, nos. 17 & 18 (illustrated).
J. & H. Dauberville, Bonnard, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. IV, Paris, 1974, no. 1654, p. 77 (illustrated pp. 78-79).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Bonnard, December 1984 - March 1985, no. 153, p. 286 (illustrated p. 287).
London, Hayward Gallery, Bonnard at Le Bosquet, June - October 1994, no. 62, p. 111 (illustrated).
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Bonnard, June - November 1999, no. 64, p. 162 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée Maillol, Pierre Bonnard, May - October 2000, no. 56, p. 84 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Pierre Bonnard: The work of art, suspending time, February - March 2006, no. 80, p. 236 (illustrated p. 237).
Le Cannet, Musée Bonnard, Bonnard et le Cannet: dans la lumière de la Méditerranée, June - September 2011, no. 65, p. 125 (illustrated).
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Please note the additional exhibition references for this work:

Høvikodden, Norway, Henie-Onstad Kunstsenter, Homage à la France, May - September 1988.
Humlebaek, Denmark, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Pierre Bonnard, September 1992 - January 1993, no. 104.
Nice, Musée Matisse, Matisse - Bonnard: une amitié, June - October 1996.

Please note the correct dimensions for this lot:
20½ x 29¼ in. (52 x 74.2 cm.)


Painted in 1945, Ciel d'orage sur Cannes is an atmospheric landscape which perfectly demonstrates the rich subtleties of the colourism that was the hallmark of Pierre Bonnard. This view of Cannes, which was visible from the home in the South of France where he spent much of his life from 1925 onwards, essentially comprises horizontal bands of colour, with the greenery of the nearby garden being succeeded by the city itself; above that is the turquoise of the Mediterranean, and above that the various strata of the sky, including the storm-laden weather indicated by the title. Some overhanging leaves in the upper right form a witty apostrophe to this focus on this succession of horizons.

Within each of the strips of this landscape view, Bonnard has explored the wealth of tiny details in the form of dabs of various colours. This is particularly apparent in the masterful and sensitive handling of the sky itself, in which various yellows, greens, pinks and violets can be seen, as well as the more usual white and blue. These flickers of tone add a vibrancy to the picture surface, while also evocatively conveying the sense of the heavy clouds. In this way, Ciel d'orage sur Cannes demonstrates the transformation that Bonnard was able to enact upon the scenes of his everyday world: as he explained, 'There is always colour, [but] it has yet to become light' (Bonnard, quoted in A. Terrasse, 'Bonnard's Notes', pp. 51-70, Bonnard: The Late Paintings, S.M. Newman, ed., exh. cat., New York, 1984, p. 52). That light, so lyrically bruised in the stormy areas of Ciel d'orage sur Cannes, is perfectly transmitted in this painting.

Ciel d'orage sur Cannes combines tension with light and beauty, perhaps reflecting the feelings of release that came at the end of the Second World War. At last, after years at 'Le Bosquet', his home in the South at Le Cannet, Bonnard was able to travel to Paris. Thus, while enjoying the end of the conflict, he nonetheless became painfully aware of the changes that had ravaged France, and especially the landscape of his beloved Normandy. Similarly, his home life had changed since the death of his wife and Muse, Marthe, three years earlier. He now lived in relative isolation, apart from prolonged visits from his nephews and nieces, studying and capturing nature.

Echoes of Bonnard's works from this period such as Ciel d'orage sur Cannes would come to be found in both the formalised structure and the dabbed brushwork of the abstract pictures of Mark Rothko, which would gain their codified structure over the coming few years. Similarly, the use of horizontal layers of colour is something to which Peter Doig has turned his attention, often creating figurative compositions that share such structures.