Art and The Radiant Bath

Nude in the Bath and Small Dog, 1941
Pierre Bonnard

Bano de Espuma, 2002
Kirby Kendrick

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), French master of 20th Century art, painted this intimate, jewel-like image of his life-long muse and wife, Marthe, in her iconic claw-footed bathtub.

Marthe, a neurotic, had a mania for cleanliness and retreated for hours everyday to her bath; art historians also say she may have suffered from a medical condition, for which the treatment was water therapy.

Bonnard, ever the artist, repeatedly painted this bath scene, capturing this prosaic setting, and transforming it into a rich and exotic world with glowing tiles, smooth ceramic surfaces, light and pattern.

Although Marthe was 62 years old at the time of Bonnard’s painting, she is portrayed as a young woman. Marthe, who appears in almost 400 of Bonnard’s 500 paintings, never seems to age.

Hmmm, could it be the water?

Masterpieces of Pierre Bonnard. Use this link if unable to view the video.


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  1. Megan April 10, 2014 at 10:31 am - Reply

    I haven’t looked at Bonnard’s work in a very long time. I love the video and the music – different way to experience his paintings! I loved it! I love your interpretation of his work! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  2. Alice Lowe April 10, 2014 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Thanks, Kirby – I love Bonnard, the way he covers the canvas with color & detail. Somewhere I heard that Marthe got tired of being following her around by her husband & his sketchbook. Perhaps she took to her bath thinking he would be deterred; maybe he’s responsible for her neurosis. “Hey, Pierre, what does a woman have to do to get a little privacy around here?” Alice

  3. Ken Gary April 10, 2014 at 11:43 am - Reply

    Great bunch of Bombard paintings Kirby!

    Whoops! Ann’s “smart” phone made a Bonnardian slip.

    Sent from the Chicago airport

    Ken G.

  4. dkremenak April 10, 2014 at 12:04 pm - Reply

    Bonnard is a master of color. So is Kirbita. Also Bonnard’s lady in the tub is about as lubricious as a flat fish. At least Kirby’s luscious lady has one long boob. Lubricity is NOT in the water.

  5. cal April 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    Great stuff! Thanks for ferreting out slideshows like this.


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