Pierre BONNARD | Decorative panel: pleasure [Panneau décoratif: le plaisir]

France 1867 – 1947

Decorative panel: pleasure
[Panneau décoratif: le plaisir]
oil on canvas
canvas 230.0 (h) x 300.0 (w) cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris , Accepted in lieu of tax 2007
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist RMN / Patrice Schmidt

The mythical theme of the adjacent panel by Pierre Bonnard is continued in this theatrical scene set in a lush garden. At the bottom of the painting the head of a man in profile can be seen sitting at a table watching maiden’s dance. A group of naked children play in a fountain. Three clothed figures dressed in garments decorated with blue form a mysterious group to the left of the fountain. Two dogs, a cat and numerous birds populate the scene.

The triangular composition leads our eye from the maidens, to the fountain, and then to a pair of impressive green gates. The ground is made up of a decorative tiled surface with blue highlights. The joyful nature of this eclectic scene is conveyed through a diverse colour palette including tones of blue, purple, green, pink, orange and yellow.

In this painting Bonnard creates a fantasy world where sensory delight and pleasure dominate, and the reality of everyday life is forgotten.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2009
From audio tour Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin and beyond Post-Impressionism from the Musée d'Orsay