Daily Art Moment: Pierre Bonnard

Image description: Dogs, Pierre Bonnard, lithograph on paper, image: 14 5/8 in x 10 1/4 in; sheet: 14 7/8 x 10 15/16 inches. A portrait-oriented work featuring seven dogs engaged in different canine social activities and a horse and carriage in the distance. The bottom half of the scene contains five of the dogs, each breed and type depicted in black outline. At lower right, a scruffy coated dog with a beard lifts a hind leg and urinates. Above, a large dog with a shaggy coat rendered with short vertical black strokes inspects the back end of another large smoother coated dog with a pointed snout. At center, a small black dog crouches and looks left next to a white outlined dog that resembles a rabbit with its long ears flying back and its back rounded as if in the act of pouncing. In the upper half of the print, a small white dog at left, gives a play bow to the small black dog. Its rump is raised with his head is low with front paws spread wide. At top center, a horse and closed carriage with a driver are seen at a distance. A small spotted dog walks next to the carriage and mimics the hunched, posture of both the horse and the top hatted driver. The background is flecked and dappled with black marks and smudges giving texture. At bottom center is the artist’s signature in pencil. Above it at left, is a “P” overlapping a “B” in black.
Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867–1947), “Dogs,” 1893, lithograph on paper, Museum Purchase: Jean Y. Roth Memorial Fund, 2018.46.1 © artist or other rights holder

As we enter the dog days of summer, I offer you seven pups by French artist Pierre Bonnard. Bonnard was a keen observer of animals, whether pampered pets or urban strays. In this lively lithograph, five dogs interact on an urban street. Well-groomed pets wearing collars mix with scruffy street dogs. Bonnard captures the distinctive gaits and personalities of each canine in a gently humorous style.

Want to see this print in person? Mark your calendar for the exhibition Private Lives: Home and Family in the Art of the Nabis, Paris, 1889–1900, opening at the Portland Art Museum on October 23! Want to know more about Bonnard’s depictions of pets? Join me for Painted Pets: Dogs and Cats in the Works of Pierre Bonnard on Wednesday, August 18 at 3 p.m. (PDT), a virtual program by our exhibition partners, the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Mary Weaver Chapin, Curator of Prints and Drawings

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