Oil on canvas
The museum owns nine works by Pierre Bonnard, created mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. The Garden at Le Cannet, circa 1936 and Nude in the bath, circa 1936-1938 were initially due to feature at the Independent Art Exhibition at the Petit Palais, which was taking place in parallel to the International Exhibition of 1937. Nude in the bath was retouched and finished by the artist at the Petit Palais, between late 1937 and 1938.
Nude in the bath, 1936-1938, is the most iridescent of the luminous metamorphoses among the five variations on Marthe in the bath, demonstrating how he has fought battled with the “subject”: Linda Nochlin describes this Marthe dismembered or floating passively like a quasi-dead woman as the heroine of one of his most stimulating canvases. In this composition, the reflective services multiply as if in an echo chamber (water, wet skin, tiles, the reflection of the window, the linoleum floor with its diamond pattern) punctuated by vertical and horizontal planes. The painter creates a gleaming reliquary of languorous flesh: the sunshine yellow adjoining the colder blues and violet is slowly corroding, delivering its colour gradually as if the body is decomposing in the light, according to André Lhote. But it could also, on the other hand, be serving to reveal the body, giving the eye just enough exposure time to rediscover the initial blinding dazzle of feeling and emotion.