Feb 11, 2020

The Plaid Dress

The Plaid Dress


Pierre Bonnard

(French, 1867-1947)

Oil on canvas

Unframed: 77.2 x 46.4 cm (30 3/8 x 18 1/4 in.)

Promised Gift of Nancy F. and Joseph P. Keithley 8.2020

Did you know?

Bonnard's patterned fabrics often did not follow the form of the body in the Japanese style; however, the vibrant checkers of the dress in this painting curve to outline Marthe's arms and posture.


This painting depicts Pierre Bonnard’s wife, Marthe de Méligny, standing before a curtain holding a cup and saucer. She was a recurring subject in his art from when they met in 1893 until her death in 1942. Here, the pattern of her dress merges so thoroughly with the curtain that she seems weightless—an ethereal presence floating in a field of pink, lavender, gold, green, and blue. Although a founding member of the Nabis (“Prophets”), Bonnard was attracted to the poetry of everyday life rather than obscure mystical subjects. He typically painted from memory and imagination,allowing experiences to distill into scenes filled with a personal emotional resonance.

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