Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947)
Few artists in the late 19th century were as strongly influenced by Japanese art as Pierre Bonnard. Like the earlier painters of the school of Pont-Aven, other Nabi artists were also inspired by East Asian pictorial concepts, but only Bonnard was given the nickname ‘le Nabi très Japonard’ – the ‘very Japanese Nabi.’ The narrow upright rectangular format of Bonnard’s early work “Woman with Ducks” is reminiscent of the of the Japanese scroll paintings known as kakemonos. The young woman standing in the central axis of the picture recalls the figure style of Japanese color woodcuts. The choice of substrate is no coincidence. The long-haired cotton fabric resists spontaneous brushwork, demanding patient dabs of color and mutes the slowly intensifying colors that here only partially achieve the luminosity of Bonnard’s later paintings.