Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Terrace at Vernonnet

Artist:
Pierre Bonnard (French, Fontenay-aux-Roses 1867–1947 Le Cannet)
Date:
1939
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
58 1/4 x 76 3/4 in. (148 x 194.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Florence J. Gould, 1968
Accession Number:
68.1
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 828
After first studying law, Pierre Bonnard pursued art at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian (1888) in Paris. There, he met fellow art students Édouard Vuillard and Maurice Denis with whom he formed the Nabis (1892–99), a group of young painters under the leadership of Paul Sérusier who followed Paul Gauguin's ideas about representing things symbolically in strong patterns and color.


Shortly after 1900 Bonnard redirected his style of painting to more closely follow the Impressionist tradition, modified by his innate sense of decoration and design. He continued to use light to change the substance and color of form, but he preferred to paint in his studio rather than in the open air and structured his compositions with formal pattern. He so convincingly went beyond the limits of local color and the laws of natural perspective that in the "Terrace at Vernonnet" the boldness of his interpretation is barely noticeable. For example, we read the tree trunk that defines the foreground as a beautiful violet strip as well as a tree, and the foliage in the background merges into a tapestry of color.


Although Bonnard continued to paint the Paris he loved, he developed a passion for the countryside and the seasons. The daily intimacies of family life add warmth to his art (he was also referred to as an "Intimist"), but there is nothing casual in his presentation. He believed that in landscape the human figure "should be part of the background against which it is placed," and more than any other of the older Impressionist painters he deliberately controlled the viewer's eye. He knew exactly what he wanted us to see, but he didn't want everything in the picture to be evident at first glance — more concentrated looking was expected.


It is probably Bonnard's last view of the terrace at his house in the Seine valley between Normandy and the Île de France, not far from Giverny, the home of his friend Claude Monet. He purchased the property in 1912 and used it as a subject for his painting until 1939. Elements of his comfortable bourgeois life are in evidence: fruit, wine, company. The gaze of the central figure is rather enigmatic, as is the gesture of the woman at the right. The main figures concentrate on their inner world rather than on their companions or the tasks in which they are engaged. Bonnard painted a shaded corner of the irregularly shaped, raised terrace that surrounded the house. Only a banister indicates the steps that descended to the sprawling garden below. In the painting the terrace serves as a stage, with the garden rising like a curtain beyond. Toward the end of his life Bonnard approached abstraction, increasingly subordinating the subject in order to obtain the desired effects of color and light.

Inscription: Signed (lower right): Bonnard
the artist (1939–d. 1947; his estate, 1947, inv. no. 345); Mr. and Mrs. Frank Jay Gould, Cannes (1947–his d. 1956); Mrs. Frank (Florence J.) Gould, Cannes (1956–68; her gift to MMA)

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Bonnard and His Environment," October 7–November 29, 1964, no. 53 (as "Terrace at Vernon [Décor à Vernon]," c. 1930–38, lent by Mrs. Frank J. Gould, Cannes).

Art Institute of Chicago. "Bonnard and His Environment," January 8–February 28, 1965, no. 53.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Bonnard and His Environment," March 31–May 30, 1965, no. 53.

Tokyo. National Museum of Western Art. "Pierre Bonnard," March 20–May 5, 1968, no. 43 (as "Terrasse à Vernon," 1920).

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. "Pierre Bonnard," May 11–June 16, 1968, no. 43.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–June 1, 1971, no. 388 (as "Terrace at Vernon").

Tokyo National Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 10–October 1, 1972, no. 106 (as "The Terrace at Vernon," about 1930–38).

Kyoto Municipal Museum. "Treasured Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 8–November 26, 1972, no. 106.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Impressionism: A Centenary Exhibition," December 13, 1974–February 16, 1975, not in catalogue.

Leningrad. State Hermitage Museum. "100 Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 22–July 27, 1975, no. 76.

Moscow. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. "100 Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," August 28–November 2, 1975, no. 76.

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," February 23–May 21, 1984, no. 18 (as "Décor à Vernon [The Terrace at Vernon]," c. 1920–39).

Washington. Phillips Collection. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," June 9–August 25, 1984, no. 18.

Dallas Museum of Art. "Bonnard: The Late Paintings," September 13–November 11, 1984, no. 18.

Kunsthaus Zürich. "Bonnard," December 14, 1984–March 10, 1985, no. 96 (as "Décor à Vernon," c. 1920–39).

Frankfurt. Städtische Galerie im Städelschen Kunstinstitut. "Bonnard," May 3–July 14, 1985, no. 96.

Canberra. Australian National Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," March 1–April 27, 1986, unnumbered cat. (p. 31; as "The Terrace at Vernon").

Brisbane. Queensland Art Gallery. "20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," May 7–July 1, 1986, unnumbered cat.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895–1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (pp. 52–53).

Art Institute of Chicago. "Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930," February 25–May 16, 2001, no. 57 (as "The Terrace at Vernon" or "Décor at Vernon," 1920/39).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930," June 26–September 9, 2001, no. 57.

Washington. Phillips Collection. "Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late," September 22, 2002–January 19, 2003, unnumbered cat. (pl. 88; as "The Terrace at Vernonnet [Décor at Vernonnet]," 1920/1939).

Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. "Pierre Bonnard: L'Œuvre d'art, un arrêt du temps," February 2–May 7, 2006, no. 51 (as "Decor at Vernon [The Terrace at Vernonnet]," ca. 1920–39).

Giverny. Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. "Bonnard en Normandie," April 1–July 3, 2011, no. 32 (as "Décor à Vernon" [La Terrasse à Vernon]," 1920–39).

Basel. Fondation Beyeler. "Pierre Bonnard," January 29–May 13, 2012, unnumbered cat. (pp. 64–65; as "Décor à Vernon [La Terrasse à Vernon]," ca. 1920/1939).

Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947). Peindre l'Arcadie," March 17–July 19, 2015, no. 15 (as "Décor à Vernon" dit aussi "La Terrasse à Vernon"; 1920–1939).

Jean-Louis Curtis. "Les Plaisirs de la peinture chez Mrs. Frank-J. Gould." Connaissance des arts no. 149 (July 1964), pp. 68–69, ill. (color, installation photo).

Jerrold Lanes. "New York." Burlington Magazine 106 (December 1964), p. 591, fig. 50.

"People Are Talking About... 'Terrace at Vernon,' by Pierre Bonnard." Vogue 144 (October 1, 1964), pp. 174–75, ill. (color).

Marie Pellé. "Les Collections de Florence Franck [sic] Jay Gould." Plaisir de France 34 (January 1968), p. 33, ill. (color, installation photo), calls it "Terrasse à Vernon".

Theodore Rousseau. "Reports of the Departments." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27 (October 1968), pp. 92, 95, ill., calls it "Terrace at Vernon" and dates it 1930/38; notes that this is a partial gift of Mrs. Frank Jay Gould.

Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 321, no. 388, ill., dates it 1930s; comments that "the three figures in the foreground convey an atmosphere of classical allegory".

Jean and Henry Dauberville. Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'œuvre peint. Vol. 3, 1920–1939. Paris, 1973, p. 30, no. 990, ill., call it "Décor à Vernon"; date it 1920, adding that Bonnard later returned to this painting.

Henry Geldzahler in "Twentieth Century Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 206, ill., calls it "The Terrace at Vernon" and dates it 1930–38.

André Fermigier. Pierre Bonnard. concise ed. [1st ed., 1969]. New York, 1984, ill. p. 27, dates it about 1930–38.

Sasha M. Newman in Bonnard: The Late Paintings. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Washington, 1984, pp. 142–43, no. 18, ill. (color) [reprinted in "Bonnard," Kunsthaus Zurich, 1984, pp. 202–3, no. 96, ill. (color)], dates it about 1920–39; relates this picture to Bonnard's four decorative panels commissioned by the Bernheim-Jeune family (1916–20; D866–868); groups it with the large terrace compositions, "The Wild Garden (The Terrace)" (1918; Phillips Collection, Washington; D941) and "The Terrace at Vernon" (about 1928; Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; D1389); discusses the three figures as references to classical mythology and the pastoral tradition.

Terence Measham in 20th Century Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Australian National Gallery. Canberra, 1986, pp. 30–31, ill. (color), dates it 1939; describes it as "some domestic mini-drama which is being enacted in silence".

Gary Tinterow et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 8, Modern Europe. New York, 1987, p. 82, colorpl. 59, as "The Terrace at Vernon".

Guy Cogeval. Bonnard. Paris, 1993, p. 108, colorpl. 33, calls it "Décor à Vernon" and dates it 1920–39.

Anette Kruszynski in Pierre Bonnard: Das Glück zu malen. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Düsseldorf, 1993, p. 41 n. 32.

Joachim Kaak in Pierre Bonnard: Das Glück zu malen. Exh. cat., Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. Düsseldorf, 1993, pp. 70–72, 79 n. 6, fig. 1, as "Décor à Vernon," ca. 1920–39.

Barbara Burn, ed. Masterpieces of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 302, ill. (color), calls it "The Terrace at Vernon" and dates it 1920, reworked 1939.

Nicholas Watkins. Bonnard. London, 1994, pp. 142, 151, colorpl. 116, as "Décor à Vernon," 1920–39.

Kathleen Howard, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed. (1st ed., 1983). New York, 1994, p. 439, no. 14, ill. (color), calls it "The Terrace at Vernon".

Julian Bell. Bonnard. reprint ed. [1st ed., 1994]. London, 1998, p. 90, colorpl. 30, calls it "Decoration: at Vernon" and dates it 1920–39.

Timothy Hyman. Bonnard. London, 1998, pp. 114–15, 219, colorpl. 88, calls it "Decoration at Vernon" and dates it 1920–39; interprets it as a "half-buried narrative" of Bonnard's relationships with his companion and future wife, Marthe and his lover, Renée Monchaty [who committed suicide one month after Bonnard married Marthe in 1925]; suggests that the foreground tree trunk represents the artist's covert presence.

Grace Glueck. "When One City Was the Heart of Art's Youth." New York Times (March 10, 2000), p. E39.

Gloria Groom. Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930. Exh. cat., Art Institute of Chicago. Chicago, 2001, pp. 192, 194, 196–200, 271, no. 57, ill. (color), notes that Bonnard's house, Ma Roulotte, is located in Vernonnet, a former village that became part of the town of Vernon in 1804; identifies Marthe as the central standing figure holding an apple, like "Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit"; suggests that the figure with the tennis racquet was inspired by an ancient Roman bas-relief of Orestes (Musée du Louvre, Paris) and represents Renée Monchaty, "the passionate intruder" [see Ref. Hyman 1998]; notes that the orange palette is closer to Bonnard's paintings in Le Cannet, suggesting that he carried this canvas with him during his travels over the years.

Elizabeth Hutton Turner. Pierre Bonnard: Early and Late. Exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington. London, 2002, pp. 69, 266, fig. 83 (color), colorpl. 88, dates it 1920/1939.

Suzanne Pagé et al. Pierre Bonnard: The Work of Art, Suspending Time. Ed. Suzanne Pagé. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ghent, 2006, pp. 24, 177, 179–81, 318, no. 51, ill. (color), dates it about 1920–39; notes that the figure with the tennis racket appears in a notebook (1921; private collection).

Jacqueline Munck in Pierre Bonnard: The Work of Art, Suspending Time. Ed. Suzanne Pagé. Exh. cat., Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Ghent, 2006, p. 88.

Rika Burnham in Pierre Bonnard: The Late Still Lifes and Interiors. Ed. Dita Amory. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pp. 69–70, 75, 140, fig. 54 (color).

Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon in Bonnard en Normandie. Exh. cat., Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. Paris, 2011, pp. 13, 146, no. 32, ill. p. 75 (color), dates it 1920–39; reproduces a watercolor study for this picture.

Dita Amory in Bonnard en Normandie. Exh. cat., Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny. Paris, 2011, pp. 22–23, 27 nn. 11, 12, dates it 1920–39; notes that a 2006 examination by paintings conservator Isabelle Duvernois suggests that this picture was retouched by Bonnard to hide scratches in its surface that may have occurred when the canvas was rolled and transported by car from Normandy to Provence; states that thumbtack holes along the edges of the canvas attest to Bonnard's practice of pinning canvases directly on the walls of his studio.

Ulf Küster in Pierre Bonnard. Ed. Ulf Küster. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Basel, 2012, pp. 17–18, 171, ill. pp. 64–65 (color), dates it ca. 1920/1939.

Andreas Beyer in Pierre Bonnard. Ed. Ulf Küster. Exh. cat., Fondation Beyeler. Basel, 2012, p. 78.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012, p. 418, ill. (color).

Holland Cotter et al. "Reflections." New York Times (January 4, 2013), p. C27, ill. (color).

Nicholas-Henri Zmelty in Pierre Bonnard: Peindre l'Arcadie. Ed. Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Cahn. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2015, pp. 48, 290, no. 15, colorpl. 29.

Nicholas Watkins in Pierre Bonnard: Peindre l'Arcadie. Ed. Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Cahn. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay. Paris, 2015, p. 223.

Guy Cogeval in Pierre Bonnard: 1867-1947. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Madrid, 2015, p. 19, fig. 4.

Guy Cogeval in Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia. Ed. Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Cahn. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. San Francisco, 2015, p. 21, fig. 29.

Nicholas-Henri Zmelty in Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia. Ed. Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Cahn. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. San Francisco, 2015, p. 52.

Nicholas Watkins in Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia. Ed. Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Cahn. Exh. cat., Musée d'Orsay, Paris. San Francisco, 2015, p. 241.



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