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Andr´┐Ż Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | Nude Crouching in the Bath [Nu accroupi dans la baignoire]
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Pierre BONNARD
France 1867 – 1947
Nude Crouching in the Bath
[Nu accroupi dans la baignoire]
1940
oil on canvas
67.0 (h) x 85.0 (w) cm
Private collection

This painting was created 2 years before Marthe died. Although she was over 60 years old at this time, Bonnard presents her as a flexible, curvaceous and voluptuous young woman.

The figure is looking away, the face in shadow. The heavy contorted limbs are not presented realistically. This is not a relaxed languorous image; Bonnard is more interested in capturing a moment of awkward hesitancy as the figure settles into or rises from the bath. The pensive figure crouches, captured by the outline of the bath as it surrounds her. There are many counter curves of chin, breast, knee and bath rim. The only straight lines are the verticals on the left side that continue from the wall behind into the shell of the bath.

Is there water to the left? Why does it not flow under her to the right? What is the white shape on the right? These deliberately ambiguous passages add mystery to a solid form and a flat pattern. The more we look at this image the more abstract it becomes, and yet there is a profound sense vulnerability and exposure in the figure.

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.