Andr� Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | In front of the Window at Le Grand-Lemps [Devant la fenêtre au Grand-Lemps]
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France 1867 – 1947
In front of the Window at Le Grand-Lemps
[Devant la fenêtre au Grand-Lemps]
oil on canvas
65.0 (h) x 64.0 (w) cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon
Answer the following questions:
  1. Where is Bonnard standing in relation to the three people
    in the picture?
  2. What role do the vertical and horizontal lines play in the composition?
  3. List all the indications of the direction of the light source.
  4. Find the main colours Bonnard has used.
    Where are those colours repeated, or echoed, in the composition? What is the effect of such repetition?
  5. How does Bonnard convey the feelings that these three people might be experiencing in their surroundings?

‘The best things in museums are the windows’, Bonnard told a friend as he left the Louvre in Paris in 1946 for the last time. So many of Bonnard's paintings include a view through a window. There is a sense in which his paintings are a window to another world — the world of the painting. Windows are a means also of bringing the outdoors inside — seen through them the outside takes on an added dimension.

The view through a window opening provided Bonnard with one of his favourite means of structuring a composition — the use of the strong horizontals and verticals of the house architecture.

Although Bonnard and his partner Marthe never had children of their own, tender observations of children often appear in Bonnard’s drawings and paintings. Often these are the children of his sister Andrée and her husband Claude Terrasse, a musician and composer who was one of Bonnard’s closest friends. It is possible one of the Terrasse children is depicted here.

The child is carrying a light-coloured object. It is unclear what it is. Even more of a visual puzzle is the white area of paint to the right, or front, of the woman shown on the left. Looked at one way, the white area can be seen as sunlight hitting the front of her dress; alternatively she may be seated on a step below the window ledge, her elbow resting on the sill, with the light falling on her knee.

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.