Pierre Bonnard was born in 1867 in Fontenay-aux-Roses. He studied law and graduated in 1888. However, painting is his great passion: he enrolled at the Julian Academy at the same time as his studies and then joined the Ecole des beaux-arts de Paris. He took the Lawyer’s oath but devoted himself to his passion from the early 1890s. He then shared a studio on rue Pigalle with Maurice Denis and Edouard Vuillard. He joined the Nabis group and received the nickname «Nabi très japonard» (a very Japanese Nabis) due to his interest in the aesthetics of Japanese art.
In 1893, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants and the same year, he met Marthe, who would be the companion of a lifetime and the most exclusive model of his Nudes until his death. He worked on numerous illustration and poster projects and participated in group exhibitions, notably at Vollard’s in 1897. Bonnard is a close friend of Vuillard, but also Thadée Natansson and his wife Misia, the architect Albert Laprade and Maurice Ravel, while he maintained an ongoing correspondence with Maurice Denis.
In the summer of 1909, Pierre Bonnard stayed in Saint-Tropez following an invitation from Henri Manguin. He then returned there in 1911 with Paul Signac and painted a large triptych entitled Méditerranée.
In 1914, he exhibited at Bernheim Jeune. He regularly visits the French Riviera, Cannes, Antibes... It was in 1926 that he bought a villa in Le Cannet, after having married Marthe the previous year. From then, the couple split up between their Parisian home on Boulevard des Batignolles and their house in the South.
In 1928, a large private exhibition of the artist was organized in New York, which was followed a few years later by the presentation of some forty works at the Wildenstein Gallery. Alongside Vuillard and Roussel, Pierre Bonnard was assigned the decoration of the foyer of the Palais de Chaillot theatre in 1936.
In 1942, Martha died in the midst of a world conflict. He continued to see the faithful friends who remained alive, but his notebooks reflected difficult moments for the artist when he lacked inspiration and the desire to paint. Pierre Bonnard died at Le Cannet in January 1947. A museum has been entirely dedicated to him in this city since 2011. In 2015, a retrospective exhibition of the artist’s work was held at the Musée d’Orsay: Pierre Bonnard, Peindre l’Arcadie, which was a great success with the public.