Flowers on the Mantelpiece, Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947) Flowers on the Mantelpiece, 1930 Oil on canvas Purchased in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore A. Cooke, 1974 (4224.1) A painter of color, light, and decorative effect, Pierre Bonnard looked past the appearance of the natural world to its fundamental, underlying components, and he explored the expressive potential of line, color, shape, and design. Although a law student, Bonnard became a professional artist in 1889, after creating an influential poster design for a champagne company and joining the Nabis, a group of avant-garde artists inspired by Paul Gauguin and Japanese prints. Preferring the intimacy and familiarity of the domestic interior over the contrived artificiality of the studio, Bonnard composed still-lifes, such as this arrangement of decorative objects and a vase of flowers, on table tops and other household surfaces. Typical of his late work, abstraction and individual expression have taken over, as Bonnard pushes the boundaries of Modernism.