Andr´┐Ż Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | Table Setting under the lamp [Table servie sous la lampe]
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France 1867 – 1947
Table Setting under the lamp
[Table servie sous la lampe]
c. 1899
oil on canvas
29.0 (h) x 34.0 (w) cm
Private collection

At the end of the 19th Century Bonnard, along with his friend Edouard Vuillard, explored domestic interiors, often containing little space and light. Emphasis was upon placement of objects and details of pattern and composition. Figures were are often obliquely placed and enigmatic in their expressions.

The congested, claustrophobic quality of this work is typical of the intimist works Bonnard created. The closest object to the viewer is the curvaceous and glistening lamp, which hovers above the table dominating the top third of the painting. The foreground is dominated by the curved and uptilted surface of a table set with four glass carafes, some platters of fruit and other foodstuffs. There are two red textured chairs, one of which is severely cropped on the bottom right. A strong diagonal shaft of light leads from this chair to the figure of a small boy peeping into the room. As the eye wanders around the table it finds a tabby cat, tail upraised, walking behind the table on the left. However the division between the floor and the wall is indistinct.

On the table the placement of objects appears random, with the dense crowd of objects on the right nearly all touching or overlapping. The space on the left is anchored by an isolated, glistening carafe of water. Adding to the stillness of the composition the small boy and the cat appear to be frozen in a moment of memorised time.

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.