But then Bonnard did say “sometimes it is the faults in a painting.. that give it life”.
Very little is known about Bonnard’s private life with his wife Marthe. In fact accounts of his life are often inaccurate.
Pierre Bonnard was 26 years old when he met on a Paris street in 1893, the woman who would become his model, mistress, wife, the subject for hundreds of paintings.
The young woman told Bonnard that she was 16 years old and that her name was Marthe de Meligny. Only when they married thirty-two years later did he learn that she had not been 16, but 24, and that her name was Maria Boursin. Marthe told Bonnard nothing about her family or where she had come from.
Had she run away from home, got into trouble, we may never know. This relationship was to produce a unique body of work.
Bonnard created his work, including his landscapes in the studio working from his memory and small quickly executed sketches. In Bonnard’s late interiors, you get to know the rooms in his houses. Bonnard admitted, “he could only paint the familiar”. His subjects were everyday objects, the rituals of normal daily life, drinking tea, feeding the cat or the dog, laying the dinner table and of course, Marthe in her bathroom. His landscapes are so often views seen directly from his house.
Colour in a Bonnard painting is an adventure. His use of colour defies description. See for yourself 'The Colour of Memory' at the Tate Modern.