Here are some of the paintings of bathtubs by Bonnard. These chart the relationship he had with his model, muse and later, wife, Marthe. Her legacy has been somewhat distorted by history as Dr Lucy Whelan has lately highlighted due to an immense amount of research. But the paintings of this singular subject are not alien to impressionist painters. It is true that Monet painted many subjects at the same time in different lights, but I am thinking more of Raoul Dufy who painted the Casino de la Jetée, Nice, over and over again, even after it had burnt down.
Marthe met Bonnard in 1893, and is at the centre of his work until around the time she signs herself as married in 1899 (when she appears to disappear for a while before gradually coming back). We do not know what caused the pair to split, but certainly the hard conditions of life for women in Marthe’s position left her at the mercy of proposals. And Bonnard, although from a bourgeois background, would not have earned much during the 1890s from his fledgling artistic career producing book illustrations and posters. In 1899, he was living in apartment 12, on the fifth floor of 65 rue Douai, not far from Montmartre – then a rather seedy district of Paris.
Pierre Bonnard – La Grande Baignoire, 1937.
Pierre Bonnard – Baignoire (Le Bain), c1940-46
Pierre Bonnard – Nu dans le bain, 1936
Pierre Bonnard – Baignoire (Le Bain), 1925.
Pierre Bonnard – Nu Dans La Baignoire, 1940
Pierre Bonnard – La Baignoire, 1942
Pierre Bonnard – Femme assise dans sa baignoire, 1925
Pierre Bonnard – Femme assise dans sa baignoire, 1942
Pierre Bonnard – Fontenay aux Roses, 1936
Pierre Bonnard – La toilette
Pierre Bonnard – Femme Debout Dans sa Baugnoire, c1925
Pierre Bonnard – Leaving the Bath (La Sortie Du Bain), 1930.
Pierre Bonnard – La salle de bain, 1932