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Crépuscule, Pierre Bonnard

Crépuscule, also known as La partie de croquet, Pierre Bonnard, 1892

Pierre Bonnard (1867 – Paris, 1947),

Dusk, also known as the croquet game,


Collection of Pierre Bonnard’s heirs

Until 1985: in the Daniel Wildenstein collection

1985: Gift of Daniel Wildenstein through the Société des Amis du Musée d’Orsay, for the enrichment of the Musée d’Orsay collections.

Oil on canvas; Dimensions of each panel: Height 2,77 ; Width 1,03 m .

Photo credit: © ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / DR

Here is one of the works present in the first rooms of the retrospective devoted to Pierre Bonnard and which astonishes as much by its vivid colours as by its play of motifs and its strange perspectives. It is in fact one of the first works of Pierre Bonnard, co-founder of the Nabis group in 1888, and represents the garden of the family home in Grand-Lemps, Isère.

The contrast between the frieze effect in the foreground and the animated scene in the background is not the only audacity of the painting. The croquet players’ clothes with their checkered prints seem to have no thickness, juxtaposed as if glued to the foliage. The subject of this painting is impressionistic: the pleasures of a beautiful summer in the countryside. However, Bonnard “the very Japanese nabi”, as his friends called him, treats the scene in flat tints and ornaments, no doubt inspired by the Japanese prints of which he was very fond. The whole is a pretext for the declension of a monochrome of greens into the weft of which the white silhouettes are inserted.

“We were trying to go further than the impressionists, and their naturalistic impressions of colour,” he says of his early years. “Art is not Nature!”.

Excerpt from the notice of the work.

The Viewers of France Culture

Broadcast on Saturday, May 16, 2015 – 4pm.

With : Guy Cogeval, Art Historian and General Curator of Heritage, since 2008 President of the Établissement public du Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie.

This Saturday 16 May at 2pm, the France Culture programme “Les Regardeurs” by Jean de Loisy and Sandra Adam-Couralet looked at Pierre Bonnard’s painting “Crépuscule” or “La Partie de croquet” and showed us how the impression of a passionate search for the perfect unity between man and nature is communicated from the very first compositions such as La Partie de croquet. The painting shows women wiggling around in a “floating pictorial space” in Japanese fashion, surrounded by a twilight light, thus reactivating themes that are close to his elders Gauguin or Redon and especially to the painting of Ranson, one of his closest friends in the Nabis group. From 1890-1900, Bonnard thus laid down the main principles of his style: primacy of the decorative, suppleness of line, expressiveness of colour. Even if his research often earned him the contempt of certain critics and artists such as Picasso, Bonnard seems to pursue freely, and away from the storms of modern art, his plastic research. He developed a light and idealized personal vision, often outside the systems.