The Children's Meal

Artist: Pierre Bonnard (French, Fontenay-aux-Roses 1867–1947 Le Cannet)

Date: 1895

Medium: Oil on cardboard, mounted on wood

Dimensions: 23 3/8 × 29 1/4 in. (59.4 × 74.3 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of David Allen Devrishian, 1999

Accession Number: 1999.180.1

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


In the early 1890s, Bonnard's very young nieces and nephews began to spend their holidays at Le Clos, the old family house in the village of Le Grand-Lemps near the French Alps. Their impish presence inspired the artist to paint a range of new subjects. Foremost among these were his celebrated "intimist" interiors, in which he also evoked his own childhood holidays in the same house.

Bonnard captured the daily ritual of a meal shared by all generations in this close-up view of the dining room at Le Clos. Around the curved table sit, from the left, the artist's eighty-three-year-old grandmother, Madame Frédéric Mertzdorff, his three-year-old nephew, Jean, and his thirty-three-year-old sister, Andrée Terrasse, with her two-year-old son, Charles, in her lap. Andrée had married the composer Claude Terrasse at Le Clos in 1890.

In this family scene, Bonnard juxtaposes early youth with old age and at the same time records young Jean's first attempts at growing up, as, armed with a very large spoon and without a helping hand, he eats his soup.