Reclining nude against a white and blue plaid, ca. 1909

The woman is resting but she is not asleep. She lies on the bed the wrong way round – her head at the foot end, her legs drawn up to her left, and sideways. The reversal leads to an unusual vantage point, and the checkers of the bedspread also contribute to the sense of optical confusion. While at the right they obey the movements of the cloth and the female body, at the left they have been painted like a vertical grid in defiance of the rules of central perspective.

This is typical: with its contrasting geometric and organic lines, the painting hovers on the boundary between naturalistic and abstract painting. Whereas the reclining figure still appears threedimensional and realistic, Bonnard has painted the background, particularly the wall at the upper right, as a surface on which the colours – divorced from every illusionistic form – can take effect from within themselves, and the application of the paint appears freely improvised. For Bonnard, the painterly media were clearly just as important as the subject. Here the result is as artistically complex as it is intimate.

© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018
Photo: U. Edelmann – Artothek

Oil on canvas
60 × 65 cm
Inv. No. 2158
Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

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