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Beau temps orageux

Pierre Bonnard

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Pierre Bonnard, 1910 / 1911
Beau temps orageux
Huile sur toile, 38 × 71 cm
Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne

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At the turn of the 20th century, Provence and the Côte d'Azur constituted a veritable laboratory of modern painting, this "great studio of the South" dreamed of by Vincent Van Gogh, where artists shared their aesthetic research and the same taste for intense light.

After having abandoned interiors and artificial lighting for natural light and landscape, after having worked west of Paris and in the Seine valley, these places cherished by the impressionists, Bonnard discovered the Mediterranean coast in 1904. Despite this stay and despite several trips to Spain and North Africa, it was only in June 1909 that he had the revelation of the southern light. Invited by the fauve painter Henri Manguin to Villa Demière in Saint-Tropez, his palette changes substantially with the spectacle of nature burned by the sun. The dark hues give way to intense greens and bright yellows, as in this stormy Beautiful weather, painted the following year or in the summer of 1911.

The artist explained in 1944 that he understood at that time that it was necessary to raise the tone to restore the incandescence and brightness of colors. Without resorting to the impressionistic diffraction of the touch, but rather by vigorous brushstrokes and a great mastery of his palette, Bonnard translates the subtle gradations of light and the fleeting atmosphere. He lets the color invade the canvas and drown the contours of the shapes about to be dissolved by light. If the human being is absent from the painting, he is not totally excluded. As in many of his landscapes, Bonnard evokes it here subtly, by the presence of a tiny isolated sailboat in the middle of a bay dominated by hills covered with lush vegetation.

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