Pierre Bonnard: Portrait de Madame Hessel ou La Dame en Rouge (1901)

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Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Portrait de Madame Hessel ou La Dame en Rouge (1901),
110 x 79.9 cm., 43 ¼ x 31 ½ in., signed and dated ‘Bonnard 1901’ (upper right)
oil on board laid down on cradled panel , Source: Christie’s

Lucy Hessel is shown here in an interior scene, seated in a chair, her left arm resting on the chair back, which shifts her entire body and confers a detached attitude with a certain self-assurance, leaving us to imagine that she is fixedly gazing at someone outside of the frame and with whom she is engaged in conversation. In the foreground, the dog – a symbol of loyalty in painting since the Middle Ages – adds a spontaneous, intimate dimension to the scene which appears more impromptu for it.


As the double title of the work suggests, this is not just a portrait of Madame Hessel, but Bonnard also seizes the opportunity to make a pictorial study of the scarlet red dress worn by the model, which occupies almost half of the composition and practically becomes a subject in and of itself. The bright red, which also appears on her lips, is made even more striking through its contrast with a very loose background in grey tones – save for part of the door frame and a gilded frame on the wall – and with the model’s porcelain skin tone. 


Click For Enlarged Detail

Best viewed At Sunnyside



Read More

The Nabis at ArtStory

Les Nabis At Sunnyside

Pierre Bonnard at The Art Story


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9 Comments Add yours

  1. JMN says:

    Bonnard is so interesting up close! The detail views you provide are very useful for studying technique.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. J’aime beaucoup Pierre Bonnard, pour le mystère de ses tableaux

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Christine. I love the hint of mystery, too! 🙂


  3. Simply beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. janicetv says:


      Liked by 2 people

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