Modern and Contemporary Art
After the ShowerMade in France, Europe
Pierre Bonnard, French, 1867 - 1947
Oil on canvas© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
37 3/8 x 26 3/16 inches (94.9 x 66.5 cm)
* Gallery 163, European Art 1850-1900, first floor
1963-181-1The Louis E. Stern Collection, 1963
LabelPierre Bonnard was one of the great colorists of twentieth-century French painting. After the Shower, with its gorgeous palette and dazzling optical effects, is a fine illustration of what the artist meant when he claimed that painting is "the transcription of the adventures of the optic nerve." This luminous canvas, which was probably painted at the Villa Joséphine in Saint-Tropez, belongs to a celebrated series of pictures in which the artist's lifelong companion, Marthe de Méligny, is observed following her daily routine of washing and drying herself. These intimate portraits evoke the quiet life the two shared in the south of France.
With Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris; E. R. Bühler, Winterthur, by 1926 ; on consignment with Galerie Rosengart, Lucerne; sold to Louis E. Stern, New York, September 2, 1946 ; bequest to PMA, 1963.
1. See Courthion, "L'Art français dans les collections privées en Suisse," in L'Amour de l'Art, vol. 7, February 1926, p. 59 (as Bühler Collection).
2. A 1964 letter from Galerie Rosengart gives Stern's purchase date (PMA Archives, Marceau object files, Stern Collection). According to provenance notes made by Louis Stern (copy in curatorial file), E. R. Bühler was the painting's only previous owner, although in fact Bühler acquired the painting through Bonnard's dealer Bernheim-Jeune; see the Dauberville catalogue raisonné and letter from Galerie Rosengart to Henry Gardiner, c. June 1964 (copy in curatorial file). Bühler (also referred to as Richard Bühler or simply R. Bühler in the Dauberville catalogue raisonné) was a cousin (Stern's notes describe him as a brother-in-law) of Mrs. Hédy Hahnloser-Bühler of Winterthur, Switzerland. Bonnard was a close friend of the entire Hahnloser family, particularly Hédy and her husband Arthur, whom he met in 1910, and he made portraits of several of its members.
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