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Dining Room Overlooking the Garden

also known as The Breakfast Room

Artist: Pierre Bonnard
Created: 1931
Dimensions (cm): 113.8 x 159.3
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

Pierre Bonnard’s sketches from his villa in Le Cannet (south of France) in 1930-31 became the vision for a series of paintings that included the popular ‘Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)’.

Pierre Bonnard, one of the masters of color of the Post-Impressionism period, displays a distinction for synthetism in ‘Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)’. Fascinated by perspective, he seeks to engage an emotional response in the viewer with his use of ‘pure colors’. The hues were applied to the canvas with a paintbrush in one hand and damp rag in the other, used for smudging or erasing as he created his works of art. The artist’s technique of defining composition with color, rather than using line and form for structure, challenges the viewer to observe it at close range.

Art critic and editor Souren Melikian refers to the artist’s passion for featuring the outdoors from an indoor perspective in an article “Pricing the Old Masters” (International Hearald Tribune 1998). She states how portraying “nature seen from within a house, through a window, or across some threshold, increasingly obsessed Bonnard as if he sought a retreat to look at the world outside.”

In the article Longing & loss: Pierre Bonnard at MOMA 1998, Leo J. O’Donovan (President of Georgetown University) wrote about his perception regarding the psyche of the artist in ‘Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)’, stating, “What seems at first a straightforward scene of a bountifully laden breakfast table before a window which opens onto a garden and finally to a public square, reveals itself as somehow blocked, unattainable: imagined more than inhabited.”

‘Painting in Paris, from American Collections’ (1930), a book by the Museum of Modern Art, N.Y., regards Pierre Bonnard as “one of the most important in the group of transitional painters who developed in the 1890’s.” When compared to Renoir and Degas, his work is described as “more subtle, more lyrical, and intimate.” ‘Dining Room Overlooking the Garden (The Breakfast Room)’, one of seven works displayed, was given anonymously to the museum where it currently resides.


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