Pierre Bonnard

Tate Britain

Among my feelings after first seeing this Bonnard retrospective was an undercurrent of disappointment. The painter had always worked for me before, with past exhibitions and single canvases becoming trophies in the mind awarded to oneself as much as to the artist. What was to blame? Was it the sludge color on some of the walls, the indifferent light of a dull March morning, the crowds? Or was it the chronological gaps (why only four works between 1901 and 1912?) and the presence of certain paintings that seemed otiose or below par? Was it some distaste for the later paintings’ relentless embrace of the domestic, the artist’s fussy interiors infested by cats and that maddening dachshund, the remnants of meals, so much fruit? Irritation with the overpowering lassitude of Marthe Bonnard, culminating in those aquatic corpses? This memorial to French bourgeois life, stuffy with sleepy pears,

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