Andr� Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | The Terrasse Family [La Famille Terrasse]
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France 1867 – 1947
The Terrasse Family
[La Famille Terrasse]
c. 1902
oil on canvas
147.0 (h) x 209.0 (w) cm
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Here Bonnard employs a grey, sombre palette and a friezelike composition of figures in two horizontal registers. The depictions of the artist's relatives are almost caricatures. The notion of the family as a symbol of mental peace and security conflicts with the tensions in the relationships between the figures.

Represented in the painting is Bonnard’s family at the house of his paternal grandmother at Le Grand-Lemps, in the French Alps about 600 kilometres from Paris. In this house, to which he was strongly attached, Bonnard spent his vacations as a child and as a young man. Here he painted his first canvases and the Grand-Lemps garden was the outdoor setting most often recurring in his work until he bought a small house in Normandy.

In the rear at the left, framed by the French window is the painter’s mother. The figure stretched on the bench is the composer Claude Terrasse, who in 1890 had married Bonnard’s sister. Completing the scene are three dogs, a cat, a kitten and seven children. Mdm Prudhomme, the fat lady in the centre of the painting, seems in animated discussion with a solemn child. This couple is echoed in the foreground by an older girl talking to a toddler. Apart from these connections everybody else seems isolated and still, as if in a reverie.

This painting is almost identical to the one which he exhibited at the first Salon d’Automne in 1903.

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.