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Andr´┐Ż Ostier, Pierre Bonnard, 1941, silver gelatin photograph (Detail)
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Pierre BONNARD | Almond Tree in Blossom [Amandier en fleurs]
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Pierre BONNARD
France 1867 – 1947
Almond Tree in Blossom
[Amandier en fleurs]
c. 1945
oil on canvas
51.1 (h) x 34.9 (w) cm
Private collection
Answer the following questions:
  1. How old was Bonnard when he painted this work?
    What might he have been thinking as he painted it?
  2. Do you think it is a sunny day? Why?
    What colour is the sky?
    What colour, or colours, are the almond blossoms?
    What other colours has Bonnard used?
  3. Would you say that Bonnard first drew the tree and then painted in the colour?
    Or did he paint all the lines of the tree with his brush? What has he painted without any lines at all? 

‘Today I saw the first almond tree blooming, and the mimosas are starting to make yellow spots’, Bonnard wrote to Henri Matisse at the end of February 1941 — one artist writing to another, excited by the prospect of the change of season and inspiration for more paintings of nature.

In 1926 Bonnard bought the modest little pink house high up among the trees at Le Cannet that he called Le Bosquet (The Grove). This almond tree was (and still is) in Bonnard’s garden at Le Cannet. ‘Every spring it forces me to paint it’, he said. A very similar picture, which was Bonnard’s last painting — he began it in 1945 and finished it in 1947 — also called Amandier en fleurs and slightly bigger (55.0 x 37.5 cm), is in the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

This is a late painting, devoid of the ambiguous spatial illusions and geometric framing devices of Bonnard’s earlier work. Here we see a central motif controlling the composition. The cropped green bush at bottom right is the only form that suggests space outside the composition. It is as if he has rejected the artifice of his earlier work and has made a painting directly from nature, glorifying in the beauty of a totally natural object — the almond tree in full bloom.

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.