Le Promenade (from 'Promenade des nourrices, frise des fiacres' or 'Nurses' promenade, frieze of carriages')

Pierre Bonnard, Artist

This is one of the prints in our collection. It was made in Paris, France in 1897.
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Object Detail

About the Work
“Bonnard is a great painter. He is often compared to the painter Vincent van Gogh. But I think Bonnard is a great painter, if not greater than van Gogh. I think about his work a lot. You can see in photos of his studio that he likes to work with the canvas directly on the wall, rather than stretched on strainer bars – Cy Twombly also worked like this. It shows a level of sensitivity to his own paintwork and brush use. It has touch sensibility and personality. Little things like this are important. Bonnard’s work has the foundational stuff that great paintings have. I mean there are a few painters, only the best, where you can really learn about the art form from the artist. For me Matisse is one of these artists, but so is Bonnard. I don’t think I am the first generation of painters to think this about Bonnard, but I have such a fondness for him, that I resent the earlier generation of painters who have “claimed him.” But that is a younger artists prerogative.”
- Andrew McLeod, 'My Choice' exhibition series, August 2022

This work in the Sarjeant collection is the third panel of four part screen. The top portion of the panel (which showed the frieze of carriages) has been removed leaving only the figures. The complete four part screen can be viewed at the Musée d'Orsay weblink below. Their website states the following:
In 1894, Bonnard wrote to his mother: "I am working on a screen [...]. It is of the Place de la Concorde with a young mother walking with her children, with nannies and dogs, and on top, as a border, a carriage rank, and all on a light beige background which is very like the Place de la Concorde when it's dusty and looks like a miniature Sahara".
From his very beginnings as an artist Pierre Bonnard was attracted to the idea of the screen. He first used this medium as a series of decorative panels in his Women in the Garden of 1891 (Musée d'Orsay and Zurich, Kunsthaus) and in an Rural Collection in 1894 (New York, Museum of Modern Art).
Nannies' Promenade, his third attempt, was more ambitious. Bonnard first produced a single picture (private collection) where the motifs, drawn from life, are arranged in tiers on a blank surface. The figures of the young woman and the boys, drawn with gentle humour, stand out in the empty surroundings. The nannies, dogs and carriages, presented on a smaller scale, give the impression of depth. The scene recalls the familiar theme of the park – a subject that inspired Vuillard, that same year, the panels of a large decorative work for Alexandre Natanson (five of which are conserved in the Musée d'Orsay).
Three years after painting this joyful work in distemper, Bonnard decided to transcribe it into five colour lithographs, published and sold as separate sheets, or mounted. The work thus became an object of everyday use, going back to one of the major preoccupations of the Nabis: to bring art into domestic life.
- http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/decorative-arts/commentaire_id/screen-19839.html?tx_commentaire_pi1%5BpidLi%5D=846&tx_commentaire_pi1%5Bfrom%5D=843&cHash=dfebf6c406 (accessed 5/8/2022)
Image 140 x 466mm
lithograph on paper
Part three of a four part screen. In this instance the very top of the work showing the frieze of carriages has been cut off. Image shows a woman walking with two young children and two small dogs. The children have a hoop each. The boy is wearing a sailor's style collar, the girl a large frilly bonnet. The image is produced in large blocks of simplified forms using mainly flat colour, highlighting the silhouette of forms and making use of negative space around the shapes. Much of it is printed in gold with touches of other colours including details using black and blue. With the young girl, much of her form is shown using the negative space from the woman's skirts behind her. The woman is wearing a hat and gloves.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Gift of Mr Rex Nan Kivell, 1939.
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date
08 Dec 1939



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