Pierre Bonnard (French, 18671947)
Oil on canvas; 35 1/2 x 42 in. (90.2 x 106.7 cm)
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.156)
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Like his friend and contemporary Édouard Vuillard, Bonnard frequently painted intimate domestic interiors. In this work, he emphasized the large dinner table covered with a white cloth and laid with flatware, plates, and carafes. It is this tableau of inanimate objects, treated as an independent still life, rather than the two detached and psychologically remote figures, that is the primary focus of the composition. The absence of perspective, the flattening of forms, and the evident fondness for decorative surface patterns are typical of Bonnard's work. Before Dinner is one of three paintings by the artist in the Robert Lehman Collection.