Andr� Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
Introduction | Gallery | Literature | Chronology | Glossary | Education Kit NGA logo
Pierre BONNARD | The Red Blouse [Le Corsage rouge]
Click to enlarge
France 1867 – 1947
The Red Blouse
[Le Corsage rouge]
oil on canvas
50.0 (h) x 52.0 (w) cm
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris Musée national d'art moderne, Centre de création industrielle

At first this seems to be a simple composition of three key areas. The strong cream wedge divides the lower part of the painting diagonally. Counterpointing this diagonal is the wedge shaped figure of the woman in a red blouse who gazes along the axis of her resting arm. Behind, the dark background frames the figure with two large rectangular shapes. Within the cream wedge are three round shapes, a cup and saucer, a plate and a piece of fruit. The spoon leads the eye from the plate to the resting hand of the girl. This painting is a symphony of geometry; triangles, squares and circles.

Bonnard conveys a sense of ennui, silence, waiting. There is no eye contact. Except for the tension in the clenched hand the figure, resting heavily on the upright arm, could almost be asleep. The space is enclosed, with only the light on the face and hair and the cropped mimosa on the right indicating space outside the image.

Bonnard painted on unstretched canvases pinned onto a wall. This enabled him to cut the canvas anywhere, and contributed to the many ambiguous cropped shapes, suggestions of foliage and figures that convey a sense of a world outside the frame of each 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.