• Mark Cator

Pierre Bonnard


I spent an hour in front of Pierre Bonnard’s painting, The Dining Room in Vernon, 1925, currently on display at the Tate Modern in London. There were so many people I felt the best thing was to keep still. It’s an extraordinary painting, your eye moves from corner to corner, Bonnard doesn’t force you to concentrate on a particular point, he’s not worried about cropping out figures, or objects and his ability to instill the exterior light and colour through to the interior, and vice versa, is extraordinary. For me he paints as a photographer might observe, with the tolerance of a wider level of light, saturation, chroma and hue. And then there is the boy behind the door in this painting, an intriguing and ambiguous inclusion, which brings to mind the work of the photographer Ralph Eugene Meatyard in the 1950’s. Bonnard's own use of photography disregarded the photographic maxims of the time, whether by intention or chance I don’t know, but they perhaps reveal more of his character than the interiority of his paintings.

Pierre Bonnard, The Dining Room in Vernon, 1925

Photograph of Pierre Bonnard, Grand-Lemps, circa 1906, taken by his close friend Edouard Vuillard