Pierre Bonnard
The Chequered Blouse

The Chequered Blouse
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
The Chequered Blouse
1892
Oil on canvas
H. 61; W. 33 cm
© ADAGP, Paris - RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Le corsage à carreaux [The Chequered Blouse]


When he painted this piece in 1892, at the beginning of his career, Pierre Bonnard had just discovered Japanese art thanks to two exhibitions in Paris, the first in 1888 at the dealer Siegfried (Samuel) Bing's, the other two years later at the National School of Fine-Arts. He was very deeply marked by this, and was even known among the Nabis as "nabi très japonard".

The woman who served as model for The Chequered Blouse is Andrée Terrasse (1872-1923), a sister of the artist and the composer Claude Terrasse's wife.
This painting owes its oblong shape to the influence of kakemonos, paintings on silk or on paper that were suspended vertically, the height of which was, like here, roughly equal to twice the width. Bonnard also found inspiration in the layout of Ukiyo-e, etchings in which the characters are often split by the framing and that ignore the symmetry usually found in Western artworks. He chose unusual angles and multiplied the viewpoints : the table is seen from a high angle, it is on the same plane as the model which for her part is seen from below. Bonnard succeeds in giving an impression of volume without using either traditional perspective or modelling. Arabesques suggesting anatomy create the illusion of shapes through the drawing.


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