Private Lives » The Nabi City

The Nabi City

The Nabi artists were deeply invested in depicting family life in domestic interiors and private gardens. However, the city of Paris appeared frequently in the work of Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard during the 1890s. They were both dedicated flâneurs (strollers), roaming the cosmopolitan streets on daily walks, sketchbooks in hand. Rather than focusing on grand boulevards or the nightlife of the city, they domesticized the metropolis, depicting its small corners, narrow streets, and parks—places where family life continued beyond the confines of the home. The art in this gallery reflects Bonnard’s and Vuillard’s aims to establish a dialogue between public and private life, to domesticize the glittering City of Light, and to bring the city into the realm of homelife. 


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940

On the Pont de l’Europe, from Landscapes and Interiors, 1899

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Funds provided by Jill and Tony Garvey 2021.34.4 

The Pont de l’Europe, a massive iron bridge built between 1865 and 1869, provided easy access to the expanded Gare Saint-Lazare railway station. Vuillard depicts this quintessential symbol of Parisian modernity with a decorative design of crisscrossing railings. The pattern is reminiscent of the wallpaper and textiles in the artist’s paintings of interiors throughout the 1890s, such as those on view in the first two galleries of this exhibition. In his own witty and highly personal manner, Vuillard domesticized one of the capital’s most important landmarks and technologically modern feats. 

[Artwork description: Two women and an infant in fashionable pastel colored clothing in front of a gray solid element with rivets. The taller woman is centered in this lithograph with her body facing the viewer, but her head turned to her left giving us a profile. She has white skin, dark hair and small facial features. She is wearing a pink, white and black small plaid dress that is off her shoulder and just past her knees with a slight pouf to the sleeves. She is holding a closed purple umbrella and wearing mid-calf black boots. The younger, shorter girl is to the left and in is holding a tiny infant wrapped up with a fuzzy white blanket. The baby has a pink face, dark hair and a blue and white bonnet. The girl has dark hair in a pony tail, a purple cape and a yellow skirt with small pink flowers with tiny leaves that goes to her knee and has matching black boots. Behind them is a solid gray object that has four equally spaced horizontal bars of the same gray that have white rivets, these crisscross two matching vertical bars on the far right and left of the solid gray background object.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

The Pastry Shop, from Landscapes and Interiors, 1899 

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Albert E. Doyle 40.20 

Vuillard often treats public settings with the same enveloping closeness as his interiors, as in this view of Parisians enjoying refreshments at a sidewalk café. 

[Artwork description: This lithograph is that of a busy scene with people dining outside. The top half of the print is dominated by abstract shapes filled with red and taupe stripes that could be representative of awnings extended from cafes extending over the street. The upper right is solid black with a striped awning extending into it and a red triangle at the top of the print. The left most of these shapes has the letters “TISSERIE” across the bottom. Beneath the letters is a wall of windows from the left of the print two-thirds of the way into the print coming to a downwards arc at its end. In front of the windows is a table with a group of people seated on black chairs. There are at four chairs with their backs facing the viewer, In the rightmost chair is a woman with a plaid shirt and a mint green skirt, the next over a red shirt, and the next two figures are solid black forms. Across the table is a man in a taupe suite with white shirt and black bow tie, he has a taupe hat and a taupe face all the people at the table are looking towards the table. Behind him is a bustling street filled with people in taupe and black. In the very front left of the print is the edge of a table with a carafe and other glass vessels.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

The Avenue, from Landscapes and Interiors, 1899 

Color lithograph
Private collection 

In this view of a Parisian avenue, Vuillard uses stacked trapezoids of color to suggest alternating passages of sunlight and shadow, gravel and grass. Vertical trunks of trees march up the top right margin indicating a park setting, perhaps the Tuileries Garden near his home. The flattened, nearly abstract composition is one of Vuillard’s most daring visual experiments. 

[Artwork description: A classic perspective drawing with a collection of people going about their business on a busy urban street. This lithograph has alternating shades of sage greens and taupe on the street and curb, people mainly rendered in dark navy with the occasional pop of yellow, pink or navy and trees. The street leads to a patch of kelly green foliage. On the right side there is one elegantly dressed woman walking down the side of the street who stands out from the rest of the people due to her attire and more realistic rendering. She is walking away from the viewer and has yellow hair with a tall sage green feathery hat, a stripped cream and sage green cape that goes to the waist with a navy skirt. Next to, and in front of her, are the trunks of trees and people interspersed among them on the sidewalk and into the street. On the left side of the lithograph the sidewalk has cracks in it, a drain and more groups of people, all seemingly walking away from the viewer. Mostly rendered as dark navy silhouettes.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

Little Girl at the Window, ca. 1901

Oil on cardboard adhered to cradled panel
Dumbarton Oaks Museum, House Collection, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC HC.P.1936.40.(O) 

Likely depicting Vuillard’s niece, Annette, Little Girl at the Window encapsulates the liminal space between the bourgeois interior and the city beyond. Three-year-old Annette is posed in front of large French windows and peeks her head above a decorative wrought iron railing. 

The painting is deceptively sophisticated and carefully considered; her pink dress and red hair ribbon stand out sharply against the neutral background. The tightly framed composition emphasizes the girl’s tiny form and suggests both the vulnerability and curiosity of the child as she gazes at the city. 

[Artwork description: A tightly cropped painting featuring the corner of an exterior window with a small girl looking out towards the viewer. The vertical lines of the trim take up almost the entire left half of the painting. The exterior window trim is mostly tan, but many shades of browns, creams, blacks and tans can be seen in the brushmarks. At the top of the window there is a decorative piece with a scalloped edge and small shapes carved into it – fleur de lis, lines with arrows at the top and bottom, and curly marks. Beneath that is a set of curtains with obvious brushstrokes mostly in white, with flecks of gray and olive. In the lower left corner of the left window is a small girl. She is wearing a pink outfit with a bright red bow in her light brown hair. She has a cream colored face shown from nose up with slightly blurred eyes, she is obscured by the balcony railing and the swirling decorative wrought iron rail beneath it.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

Child Wearing a Red Scarf, ca. 1891

Oil on cardboard
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection 1970.17.90 

By adopting the vantage point of the little girl, Vuillard allows the viewer a glimpse into the world of the young city dweller, whose surroundings and guardian seem immense by comparison. Vuillard focused all the color in this composition—the red-orange scarf, the dotted skirt, and the blue headband—on the child, imbuing her with vitality. 

[Artwork description: A tightly cropped painting of a small child holding the hand of a male figure. On the left, the small child is colorfully adorned with a billowy bright red-orange scarf, a white skirt covered with small red dots and a bright robin’s egg blue headband. Her small right arm is being held by a man who towers over her and is only partially in view. The man’s appears to be walking into the painting with his left leg and upper torso in view. He is wearing very muted colors in black pants and has a brush streaked brown top. Their surroundings appear to be that of an urban environment, walking on a flat gray surface towards a small group of people with long skirts and long sleeved tops. The skirts are navy and gray and the tops are gray and red/black striped.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Nursemaids’ Promenade, Frieze of Carriages, 1895 

Color lithograph; screen with four panels
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Nancy and Joseph P. Keithley by exchange 2008.31.a–d 

This four-panel folding screen depicts a smartly dressed mother rushing across the Place de la Concorde with her children and family pets. They are leaving the Tuileries Gardens, a favorite site for families, as seen in other prints in this gallery. 

The chaotic activity of the family group is contrasted by the three motionless figures seen from behind. Their distinctive bonnets with long, trailing ribbons identify them as the nursemaids (nannies) of the screen’s title. 

By the end of the 1800s, screens, used as a room dividers, were a standard feature of Parisian homes. In this screen, Bonnard brings a fleeting moment of urban family life into the domestic interior. 

[Artwork description: Four panel lithograph on cream paper. The top of each panel has a line of horse drawn carriages moving from right to left. Most are brown and black with a few green and red highlights, but the second one on the first panel is yellow. The first panel has a decorative fence below the carriages with a woman wearing a large bell-shaped brown overcoat with black plaid stripes. She is wearing a white bonnet with long ties that run to the bottom of the coat. Next to her on the second panel are two women with the same type of coats and bonnet. The first has a brown and white plaid coat and a brown bonnet. The second has a teal coat with white horizontal stripes and a white bonnet. Near the bottom of the second panel is a brown hoop being pushed forward by a child on the third panel. The third panel has a tall woman with a rose brown colored coat with a large triple layered collar and a form-fitting bottom. She has red curly hair and is wearing a black and white plaid hat with a single white flower on the front. To her right is a young child with pants, shirt, and beret that are the same rose brown color as the woman’s coat. He appears to be running towards the hoop that is in the second panel. To the left of the woman is another small child whose face is not visible. The child is wearing a long-sleeve white dress and white bonnet with brown shoes. Two small, thin dogs run between them – the first a light brown and the second black. A brown hoop runs from the last panel into the third panel. Running behind it is a young child wearing brown pants and a coat with a large black hat. Some brown markings that resemble leaves are in the road behind the child.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

Child and Nurse in the Garden: Project for a Screen, ca. 1892 

Ink and watercolor with graphite underdrawing
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo in honor of Malcolm Rogers 2014.1735 

This small watercolor relates to Vuillard’s first commission: six paintings plus a screen to decorate a fashionable Parisian townhouse. 

[Artwork description: An ink and watercolor sketch of a painting for a paneled screen. The screen consists of seven vertical sections, with the vertical height varying from two panels high to four panels high. The lower panels are vertical in orientation and larger and the upper panels are much smaller and horizontal in orientation. The style of the sketch is very loose and uses minimal colors, black, red and a mix of the two creating a marron. The focus of the sketch dominates the right side of the screen and is of a caretaking figure bent at the waist with her right arm extending forward and down and her left arm cradling a small standing child whom she is gazing towards. The woman is wearing a black long-sleeved dress with a white apron that flows to the ground. Her skin white and hair dark brown and slicked to her head. The small child is standing in the woman’s embrace and wearing a bright red dress looking out towards the woman’s extended hand. Her light colored hair is suggested with only a few thin and straight black brushstrokes. Her skin is white and her eyes are two dark round circles and she is holding on tightly to the woman’s arm wrapped around her. The ground is scattered with small brownish flecks that the woman seems to be paying attention to. The left two vertical and horizontal pair of panels have maroon colored sketches of two people engaged with each other, one of which appears to be wearing wearing a long dresses. There are subtle rust colored swirls in the background of the entire panel. The small upper panels have many small spontaneous marron brushstrokes. In addition to the main sketch of the piece there is a small roundish orange paint splotch in the upper left. And finally, in the upper right there is very small drawing of the overall shape of the screen that is detailed below, it appears to have a vine-like structure streaming downward to cover the screen.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

Nurse with a Child in a Sailor Suit, 1895

Oil on cardboard
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1939 

Here, a narrow sliver of Paris is glimpsed through the foliage of a public park. A nanny carries an infant and leads a boy away as he glances over his shoulder toward a girl in a bright red dress. As in other paintings in this gallery, Vuillard reserves the most vibrant colors to describe the children in this predominantly gray image. 

[Artwork description: The application of paint is very thin and flat throughout this piece. The composition is mostly the light green of a grassy area darker greens of shadows cast from a tree. There is a lighter mint green tree trunk going up the center of the painting running off the painting on the top and bottom. In the lower left are two wrought iron chairs, in the upper left is a female nurse ivory skin, rosy cheeks, a white cap, black blouse and brown skirt holding a large bundle of white blankets draping to the ground. Beside her is a small boy wearing navy blue with a blue sailors top. The upper right suggests another group of people that could be a nurse and two small children, one wearing a red dress. The entire painting is suggested with brushstrokes and not well defined.]


Édouard Vuillard

French, 1868–1940

The Tuileries Garden, from Album des peintres-graveurs, 1896

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis B. Williams Collection 1941.539

An American guidebook, published in 1928, noted:

Paris loves trees and children. One cannot think for two minutes of either subject without finding the other equally present to mind.

This lithograph portraying adults and children traversing a path in Paris’s most celebrated garden memorializes this association of the city’s parks with children.

[Artwork description: A multi-pastel colored lithograph of people strolling through the paths of a park. It is a very soft, light and airy print. The lower right corner is a corner of flat pale green grass with six white and two gray birds sitting, flying and walking. Between this patch of grass and the next which has a small leafless tree and a round garden of foliage surrounding it is a path with people strolling on it. Close to the center is a woman in a long yellow and light brown plaid coat with hair ribbons that trail down her back all the way to the ground. There is a small girl with a geometric patterned dress on in front of her. To the right of this coupling is another group with two women and two small children. The woman has white skin and is wearing a checkered shirt and a pale yellow dress, the other woman wearing a gray cape with the two small children in black around her white skirt. Beyond this path and figures are more paths and figures and trees in the distance. The sky and the path are all white, free of ink with Vuillard’s signature in the upper right of the sky.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940

Children’s Games, from Album des peintres- graveurs, 1897 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Dudley P. Allen Fund 1951.488 

[Artwork description: This color lithograph is a scene in a park and is composed from the primary colors yellow, red and blue along with using the white space of the paper. The paper shown through all around the edges and very much into the sky. The sky also has very faint yellow and black lines to depict a cloud filled sky. Near the bottom of the painting the grass is made from yellow strokes that vary in density. A large figure on the left side of the lithograph dominates the scene with her larger than life size. She has on a very decorated hat that prevesnts us from seeing her face and a very ornate dress with red, white and blue stripes on the skirt with a very structured white blouse. She is bending down and has her hands on a young boy who seems to be flailing in the grass. He face is obscured and it looks like he has a white cap on with a red and blue striped outfit. There is a red ball near him, just out of arms reach. The other people in the scene are much smaller than this pair and are seen behind and to the right of them. The pair behind them include a standing woman with a white skirt a child sitting in the grass and all the people to the right are strolling and wearing darker clothing. Either pants with long coats or long dresses and hats. There is also one person with a red umbrella. Behind the people is a small grove of sketchy trees. They feel very much less rendered than the rest of the subject but and are primary the white of the paper with blue ink sketches.]


Ker-Xavier Roussel 

French, 1867–1944 

Two Women and a Child, ca. 1890–91

Oil on canvas
Private collection, Portland, Oregon 

Roussel was Vuillard’s brother-in-law, close friend, and fellow Nabi artist. Like other Nabis, Roussel depicted families with children in small corners of the Parisian metropolis. Here, the women are engaged in conversation, while the boy gazes in another direction, absorbed in his own private urban experience. 

[Artwork description: A vertical print featuring two women walking together with their arms linked while one holds a child’s hand. The women are centered and shown full length in long dresses. The woman at right has peach colored skin and brown hair swept up in a bun on top of her head. She wears a black blouse with full puff sleeves that narrow on the forearm with a mottled tan skirt and a small brown hat with a red ribbon bow on her head. The woman on the right appears older with lighter hair, peach colored skin and wears a long dark blue caped cloak. A small black peaked hat adorns her head. The child at far left has the same peach colored skin and wears a black outfit that includes short dark pants, stockings and shoes. He looks off to the left, a black cap covering his head. The far-right edge of the painting is taken up by large shapes that seem to intrude on the space, as if the viewer is looking around the shapes at the trio. The shapes are painted in blacks, blues, grays and browns. They may evoke portions of clothing of other passersby or perhaps goods hanging in an outdoor stall. The brushwork is broad, with colors layered and dabbed so the figures have a soft edged look with barely discernable facial features and clothing detail. Behind the trio is a bright yellow wall depicting part of a window showing a deep blue sky at left and part of a white sign with red letters at right.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Cab Horse, ca. 1895

Oil on wood
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection 1970.17.4 

Bonnard adopts a narrow composition to suggest an intimate moment of city life. An elegant woman with a parasol passes a cab horse as she makes her way to the bustling shops across the avenue. The dramatic contre- jour effect suggests a liminal space between inside and outside, darkness and light. 

[Artwork description: Oil painting of a busy Parisian plaza. In the foreground on the left side a brown horse pulls a carriage. The horse is outlined in black and has blinders and reins. In front of the horse, a woman in a long black dress and elegant hat carries a closed umbrella on her left side and walks towards the plaza. To her right wheels of another carriage are seen. Past the brown road the plaza is cream. In the plaza two wooden benches can be seen on the edge facing the street. About eight gray lamp posts line the plaza. Several pedestrians of varying ages mill about the plaza. Small details are not visible but the figures can be identified by their unique clothing colors and patterns which include blue, gray, and pink. On the opposite side of the plaza are multiple buildings. The first two stories are visible. The first story has multiple shop fronts with large windows, doors, and colorful pink and white striped awnings. The second story is cream colored with several black and white windows.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947

Woman with an Umbrella, from the Album de la Revue blanche, 1894

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund 1992.338 

Maria Boursin—known as Marthe—became Bonnard’s romantic companion when they met in 1893, and they eventually wed in 1925. She was the model for this lithograph depicting a woman teetering up a stairway. The composition is devoid of background details; only the cobblestones and umbrella suggest the urban setting. 

[Artwork description: A female is positioned in the middle of the frame with her full-length, long-sleeved black dress offering a dramatic contrast to the blank, cream-colored background. She wears a flat black hat atop her black hair that is drawn with wavy lines that allow the background color to show through. Her head is tilted downward and a rosy tint shades most her face, offering the only spot of color in the print. Her body is slightly hunched over at the waist and her left arm reaches out with the hand extended. Her right arm is bent at the elbow with her hand clutching a long furled umbrella tightly across her body. A few sparse lines appear directly below her dress. The artist’s initials appear in the upper left corner of the print.]


Pierre Bonnard

French, 1867–1947

La Revue blanche, 1896

Color lithograph
Promised Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler to the Portland Art Museum

This poster was created as an advertisement for La Revue blanche, an avant-garde illustrated literary magazine dedicated to culture and the arts, edited by Thadée Natanson, a lawyer, businessman, journalist, collector, and art critic.

The model for the coy, fashionably dressed woman was Thadée’s wife, Misia. Intellectual, charismatic, and beautiful, Misia was a muse to the Nabis. She is depicted in numerous works throughout this exhibition.

[Artwork description: Lithograph on dark tan paper of the cover for the magazine la revue blanche. The top of the cover has small, bold writing in French which translates “La Revue Blanche appears each month in booklets of 100 pages. 1 franc. Offices 1 rue Lafitte. For sale everywhere.” Below it the top two thirds of the cover has a brick-like design with handbills that read la revue blanche. Below is a large black stripe where the name of the magazine is written in large, but slim tan letters. On top of the top title and bricks is a tall, light-skinned woman wearing a large black dress that has three layers of large ruffles at the neck. She has dark curly hair and a large, elegant black hat with three light colored flowers on the front. Her right hand is on her hip and the “l” in La doubles as an umbrella handle, hanging over her arm. Her left hand is holding a copy of the magazine with a white cover and black writing. To her left, a short newsboy with dark clothing, a checkered scarf, and messy hair is hunched over with his mouth open. His right held up, thumb pointing to the magazine in the woman’s hand. Behind him a large man faces away, reading the playbills on the wall. He is wearing a black coat and top hat. There is a thin black border around the cover and four words written in a small font on the bottom right.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Le Salon des Cent, 1896

Color lithograph
Promised Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler to the Portland Art Museum 

This poster advertises an exhibition of works by contemporary artists. Here, Bonnard depicts one of his favorite types: the Parisienne, a young, fashionable, modern woman. She is equally at home on the street as in the domestic interior, where prints acquired at the Salon des Cent (Salon of the One Hundred) would have been enjoyed by the rising middle class. 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on tan paper. The title is in large blue writing on the top left of the lithograph with smaller blue letters on the right giving additional details. In the middle is a profile of a woman with black hair pulled back into a bun with a red bow and wearing a white hat with a lace veil. She looks away to the right. She has a long neck and is wearing a faintly sketched red dress with black trim. She has one arm outstretched wearing a black glove with her second finger extended. The front edge of the dress is sketched with a thin black line and the rest of the dress is not sketched. A small black dog with a curled tail and floppy ears stands on the bricks in front of the woman.]


Some Scenes of Parisian Life 

This suite of color lithographs collected Pierre Bonnard’s observations of city life, ranging from animated street scenes to distant observations glimpsed from the artist’s Montmartre studio window. Rather than memorializing the famous monuments of Paris, Bonnard preferred to depict small neighborhood scenes populated by urbanites shopping and strolling and by vendors selling their wares. The setting for one of the prints is the second-largest public park in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne, which was a popular place for families to relax, stroll, and enjoy carriage rides around the lakes. Two prints are nocturnal scenes in which gaslight emanating from shop windows is reflected on the wet streets, creating passages of bright yellow in the otherwise dark compositions. Bonnard’s favorite subjects, such as the Parisienne—a young, fashionable, modern woman—as well as children and dogs, appear repeatedly throughout the prints in the suite. 


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Album cover of Some Scenes of Parisian Life, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.1 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper. Layers of short, sketched black lines make up a scene of a Parisian avenue. The top of a multi-story building is seen in the center. It has a dormer on the first visible level with a second level above that has two dark windows. Loosely sketched clouds rise above it with a flock of birds on the left. A row of buildings line the avenue on the left, but are barely discernible, composed of layered loosely sketched lines. A variety of pedestrians, carriages, horses, and carts fill the avenue, most of which are difficult to distinguish individually. At the left of lithograph a horse pulls a carriage. The rider seems to be wearing a light colored shirt and a dark hat. On the right corner is a close up of a bust of a Parisian woman with a large black hat, losely sketched shirt, and an almost abstract face. She has light orange blushed cheeks and dark orange lipstick. Bright orange letters at the top of the lithograph spell the authors’ names and on the bottom give the title. The letters are written at different angles and do not flow in a straight line.]


Pierre Bonnard

French, 1867–1947

Paris Boulevard at Night, 1900

Oil on paperboard
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Bequest of John T. Spaulding 48.520

Bonnard likely painted this view from his apartment and studio, near the Place Pigalle, a public square at the foot of the Montmartre hill in Paris. Charles Terrasse, the artist’s nephew, later recalled:

The balcony was a place that was particularly attractive. From there one could see so many things. A whole world. The street below was bustling…agitated like a sea.

The view allowed the artist to capture the life of the city from his own private perch.

[Artwork description: Night view of Paris Boulevard from an upper story window. Short distinct overlapping brush strokes of dark muted colors form the shapes in the shadows with light muted colors forming the shapes that are illuminated. In the foreground on the right corner is a parietal view of a two-story building with several blue windows and a dormer on the roof. To the left the boulevard runs between the buildings. Five figures which appear to be an adult and children stroll through the street. An intersecting boulevard passes beyond the building. A burgundy stagecoach with gold accents pulled by two white horses carries passengers down the road. A grassy area stretches beyond the boulevard lined with trees that have thin light trunks and large dark tops. Eight figures are barely visible, walking among the trees. Beyond the trees is a large tan building composed of two long wings to the right and two identical square towers to the left covered in rows of blue windows. Beyond the building other architecture is barely visible through the black of the night. Rows of windows can be made out with one on the first floor that has four white ovals with red dots in them.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Street at Evening in the Rain, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.11 

[Artwork description: Lithograph showing a close-up, street level view of a bustling intersection at night. Muted strokes of dark colors are interrupted with bright yellow trails of light reflecting off the rain soaked street. In the foreground two figures with light colored faces wearing dark clothing including large rain capes. Behind them the bright lights from the building across the street reflect in the rain. Three stage coaches roll down the street with multiple figures walking in front and behind them. The building has two floors. The first floor has large windows filled with yellow light with dark outlines of figures standing in front of them. The second floor has eleven windows, with three in the middle lit up from inside.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Square at Evening, 1899

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Funds provided by members of the Collections Committee in honor of Roger Meier 2007.75 

The nocturnal composition, set off by splashes of bright light, shares affinities with Bonnard’s interior dining scenes in which lamps illuminate random details of the room. 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper. A large group of people walk through the square alongside stage coaches in front of large buildings with bright light shining from the windows. Heavy, layered strokes make up the images with details that are difficult to differentiate. A light-skinned woman wearing a black cape, large black hat with feathers protruding from the top, and red bows in her hair faces away from the viewer and takes up a two-thirds of the bottom of the lithograph. To the right a tall, thin, light-skinned man with a mustache and black coat and hat walks towards the left side of the lithograph. Behind him a shorter, thin woman with light skin looks downward and carefully steps forward while wearing a long black dress and a black hat. Yellow light reflects in the puddles around her. Behind her to the right two stage coaches drive off the paper. A large group of figures that cannot be distinguished mill about in front of the lighted windows of the large buildings. Four windows on the second floor are illuminated with reddish orange lights.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Street Corner, Seen from Above, 1899

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.13 

Bonnard’s attic apartment overlooked the medieval Tholazé Street. This tiny street captivated Bonnard’s imagination; he incorporated views of it in more than ten works of art. 

[Artwork description: Color lithograph on cream paper of the medieval rue Tholozé in Montmartre from Bonnard’s attic apartment. The dark street consisting of brown and black lines is bustling with about forty pedestrians and multiple horses and carts. Most of the figures are dressed in black with some white items in carts and being carried by the pedestrians. On the right is a building with a black first floor with white windows, white second floor with two rows of black windows, and two dormers on the roof. On the left side are multiple white buildings with dark steeply slanted roofs. At the top of the lithograph a large building fills the lithograph. Four floors are visible, the first two are reddish brown with white windows and black shutters. The top two floors are white with black outlined windows and shutters. There is a signature in the bottom right corner.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Houses in the Courtyard, 1899 

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Helen Thurston Ayer Fund 40.9

[Artwork description: Mostly light colored lithograph of houses in the courtyard as viewed from a window. The brown windowsill and frame are visible in the foreground. A small portion of a brown roof with dark lines and a white flat facade with what appears to be windows visible right under the roofline can be seen at the bottom left. Straight out the window is a large white building with three rows of windows with wood shutters and two dormers extending from the black roof. The bottom windows are black inside. The second row has two with light brown lines inside and the third is open with a black background and a figure sitting on the windowsill, legs dangling. In the top row of windows the first has brown small lines in the window, the second has black, and the third has the black outline of a figure standing behind the window. To the right, the end of another white building rises up taller than the first. There is a black object resembling a chimney on the lower level and then a brown ledge above with four orange cones on top. Beyond are the black rooflines of other buildings with nine objects resembling chimneys and vents extending past the roof.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Street Seen from Above, 1899

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Jean Y. Roth Memorial Fund 2018.23.1 

[Artwork description: Color lithograph on cream paper. View of the street from a high window. Tall dark buildings line the street as far as you can see. A four story brown building with rows of black windows stretches from the bottom left corner to the middle of the lithograph. Beyond it is a tall dark brown building with a cylindrical top with black lines. On the bottom right a black roof edge fills the corner. A cream roof top extends past it. Another four story brown building stands behind. The street is made up of dark lines and is lined with cream colored sidewalks. About five black figures walk down the street. At the top of the lithograph the orange sky is filled with dark rose colored clouds that are outlined in black.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Boulevard, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.6 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper. View of busy Parisian boulevard bordered by storefronts on one side and a park on the other. Dark colors make up the park scene while bright yellow and orange highlight the boulevard and storefronts. In the foreground dark black and brown lines make up the ground of the park that has nine thin trees. Six people wearing dark coats and hats walk through the park at different places. In the middle, a figure wearing a dark brown coat and pants sits on an orange wooden park bench. A small brown dog with a curled tail plays at the left end of the bench and on the right a figure wearing a light colored shirt and dark pants kneels behind a basket of items. Behind the park, on the left a bicyclist wearing light colored clothing rides down the boulevard. In the middle is a stagecoach with a brown top and yellow body and wheels, with a reinsman in light colored clothing. A large extended stage coach is parked on the sidewalk behind with a second stagecoach pulling in to park behind them. The white horse pulling the coach wears a yellow covering with red trim. The sidewalk is bustling with pedestrians, but it is difficult to make out the details of each figure. Five storefronts line the sidewalk. The first on the left has dark windows and a white and orange striped awning. The next two are orange with dark windows and large letters at the top. The fourth is covered by the stagecoach parked in front. The last is brown with dark windows and large letters at the top. The bottoms of second story windows are visible above the storefronts.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Bois de Boulogne Avenue, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.2 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper showing figures strolling down the Bois de Boulogne Avenue. The avenue, sky, buildings, and brush are a light tan color. Darker brown and rust colored strokes are layered over the base. In the middle is a tall figure wearing a long black dress with a large hat. A younger individual walks next to the figure wearing black high heeled boots, a light skirt, a dark jacket, and a dark hat. Three young children run around them and a small white pet walks alongside. On the right corner a large brown tree with bare branches stretches over the avenue. Behind the tree a line of about fifteen figures stroll down the avenue. A few are seated along the treeline. Their clothing varies – light and dark colors and their figures are made of loosely sketched lines. Along the opposite side of the avenue is a line of carriages and stagecoaches. Large bare-branched trees like the avenue with faint outlines of buildings visible between them. Loose, wide strokes make a bank of clouds above the roofline.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Arc de Triomphe, 1899

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.12 

One of the quintessential Parisian monuments, the Arc de Triomphe, is relegated to the distant background in this cityscape, a sign that Bonnard was more concerned with small moments, atmosphere, and feeling rather than the grandeur of the capital. 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper showing The Arc de Triomphe at the end of a long tree-lined avenue with outlines of buildings in the distance. The Arc de Triomphe is depicted with black losely sketched lines. Light black wispy lines construct clouds that fill the sky. A light cream colored cloud rises above the Arc de Triomphe. The long cream avenue has distant carriages, horses, and pedestrians that are barely visible. Three figures on horses ride toward the avenue at the bottom left of the lithograph. The bare-branched trees are thick on either side of the avenue with layers of chaotic brown lines over the trees. On the right side there is a small patch of dark black lines and some deep red strokes.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Bridge, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.9 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper with varying tones of brown depicting a Parisian bridge filled with stage coaches and pedestrians. The outline of the bridge and the water and structures below is very faint, barely visible. Detailed silhouettes of a large extended stage coach with several passengers below and a reinsman on top pulled by a team of horses and a smaller individual stage coach with a reinsman at the front cross the bridge towards the left side of the lithograph. The outline of the coach and their large wheels are clear. A small individual stage coach with one reinsman travels to the right of the lithograph, behind another large extended stagecoach. A group of approximately nine dark brown figures near the top right of the lithograph walk towards the bridge carrying a variety of objects that cannot be clearly distinguished.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Street Corner, 1899 

Color lithograph
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of the Hanna Fund 1948.156.3 

[Artwork description: Lithograph of a busy street corner as seen from above. The road and sidewalk are a light green color with lightly sketched lines delineating the sidewalk and base of the walls of the buildings. The rest of the building exteriors are not shown with the exception of some rough yellow outlines on the building at the top of the lithograph. The nine figures in the center of the lithograph are more detailed and the nine near the top of the lithograph are loosely sketched. In the center a woman with a dark dress that is pulled tight at her waist and a large matching hat carries a white object down the street. To the left an adult wearing a long brown skirt and a white shirt with brown markings, bends over holding the hand of a small child wearing a long-sleeve white dress. To the right another small child with a white skirt and dark shirt walks alongside a brown dog. Behind them a large man with dark pants and a white shirt carries a long white plank. In front of this man another figure wearing dark clothing pulls a small wooden cart with large wheels. On the sidewalk on the right side of the street two women wearing long sleeve, high-neck dresses with matching hats stroll side by side. A large brown plank with a large dark circular object lean against the base of the wall next to them. Loose outlines of other figures walking along the street are visible at the top of the lithograph.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Costermonger, 1899

Color lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Gift of Daniel Bergsvik and Donald Hastler in honor of James D. Burke 2018.47.1 

[Artwork description: Lithograph made up of mostly light muted colors depicting a costermonger selling goods in the street market. The costermonger is light-skinned and has a long white coat, dark hat, and brown boots. The cart holds a variety of items, small round reddish brown balls and larger clumps of a gold colored object. A light-skinned woman with a long dark skirt and a white and brown hooded cape stands with her back to the cart looking towards the costermonger. A small thin dog with a thin short tail and thin floppy ears goes before the cart. The scene behind them has a yellow background. A building with nine windows loosely sketched along the top has two large white and red striped awnings. Several figures comprised of loose brown outlines with a few strokes of red and blue can be seen working around and under the awnings. In front of the right awning a brown figure with a red outline stands in front of a group of horses.]


Édouard Vuillard 

French, 1868–1940 

At the Café, ca. 1897–99

Oil on board, laid on cradled panel
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Bequest of Leonard C. Hanna Jr. 1958.57 

Vuillard’s depiction of two women in a Parisian café evokes his view of the apartments that he shared with his mother throughout the 1890s. The space is confined and densely patterned, and colors flicker like jewels under gaslight. 

[Artwork description: An oil painting of two women at a table in a cafe at night time. In the shadows of the restaurant the colors are very dark, primarily blacks, greens and grays while the highlights are reds, yellows and whites and seem to sparkle. In the foreground, the two women are sharing a table. Since their table is in shadows, their white faces are gray, one wears a black dress, the other a brown patterned dress. There are three small white dishes and two glasses of wine on the table. Both women appear to be looking down at their hands on the table, engaged in writing. The woman are seated next to a large, muted green column that extends off the top of the painting and a mirror that reflects back the women in brown and a server with black hair, a white face, a black outfit and a white apron, the reflection also shows a big open door leading to the darkness outside. The interior space has red walls and exposed beam ceilings, the walls sparkle with white accents from the dim lighting. Also beyond the women’s table is a shelf with assorted things on it.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Café Terrace, 1898

Oil on board
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Anonymous Gift 1976.148 

In these small city scenes, Bonnard humanized Paris and its anonymous inhabitants, suggesting intimate moments in their private lives. 

[Artwork description: Oil painting of a Parisian cafe terrace with mostly muted colors with bright lights among trees along the back of left side of the painting. The top of the painting consists of a row of trees thick with green leaves. To the right is the restaurant building painted muted orange, red, and cream with black letters spelling restaurant at the top and a gray balcony and first floor. A row of flower pots with red and white flowers line the balcony edge. The terrace is filled with tables placed closely together. The terrace scene is comprised of dark muted colors, making details difficult to distinguish. The first table at the bottom of the painting is small and round with two glass dishes. A light-skinned man with a white shirt, black suit jacket, and tan hat with a black band smokes a pipe and peers to the right of the painting. Across from him a light-skinned girl with long red hair wears a turquoise dress and turns her head to look to the left of the painting. To the right of the girl, a light-skinned man with dark hair wears a dark jacket and seems to be looking in the direction she does. Behind him a light-skinned waitress with brown hair in a bun, a teal skirt and white apron, and black short sleeve shirt walks towards the restaurant past a vacant table with a silver vase on it. At the back of the terrace a large group of people sit around a table. Most are wearing dark shirts, some have large dark hats. Their individual details are difficult to distinguish. A woman near the bottom of the painting wears a long-sleeve white shirt with a pink bow at the collar, and a large dark hat. To her right is a large brown tree trunk with a black light pole in front of it with three round, white, light fixtures on top. A white sign or piece of art hangs on the lamp post and another on the tree trunk.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

Dogs, 1893

Lithograph
Portland Art Museum, Museum Purchase: Jean Y. Roth Memorial Fund 2018.46.1 

Like his fondness for children, Bonnard’s love of dogs remained constant, whether he was in the city or in the countryside. In rural areas, dogs typically signified the comfort of close companions and familial interactions. City dogs could be either pampered pets or strays. This lithograph portrays a mixture of both: well-groomed canines and their scruffy counterparts romp and relieve themselves in an urban park. 

[Artwork description: 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 

Two Dogs in a Deserted Street, ca. 1894

Oil on wood
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection 1970.17.3 

Dogs were a constant presence in Bonnard’s life: they accompanied him on his morning walks, he wrote about them in his letters, and he was photographed with them. Whether as household pets or anonymous occupants of the city, they appear in the work of his Nabi years and endure as beloved companions throughout his career. 

[Artwork description: This quiet street scene features two dogs in the foreground with two buildings in the background. Only the two lower floors of the buildings are shown with bluish grey shuttered windows and closed doors puncturing the blank white facades. A mottled grey and brown strip appears where the buildings meet the street, suggesting an aged stone foundation. Small black squares suggest windows in the doors and on the walls directly above the doors, while some of the shuttered windows have rectangular tan lintels. A grey wheelbarrow rests in front of the building on the left side. Immediately to the right of the wheelbarrow is a brown and white dog with its head and body bent toward the pinkish brown-colored street. A second tan-colored dog is positioned in front of the other dog, slightly to the left, with its head upright and its ears perked up. The artist’s signature appears in the lower right.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947 

The Little Laundress, 1895–96

Lithographic crayon
Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1988 1988.1016 

Bonnard created several preparatory drawings for the color lithograph of the same name (on view to the right). Significantly, the first sketches for this composition included multiple figures and a wider panorama. Working from his drawings, Bonnard simplified and cropped the composition until all focus was on the child and the stray dog who shares the composition with her. 

[Artwork description: Sketch made by lithographic crayon on cream paper. A woman with a dark dress, hat, and boots carries a large basket of laundry covered with a sheet with her left hand and leans on an upside down umbrella with her right hand as she walks. The outline of a small dog is in the street in front of her. Loosely sketched outlines of three pedestrians are on the sidewalk to the left. One figure appears to be carrying a board. A building runs along the length of the sidewalk. A thin gray line creates a border around the lithograph.]


Pierre Bonnard 

French, 1867–1947

The Little Laundress, from Album des peintres- graveurs, 1896 

Color lithograph
Parasol Press, Ltd., Portland, Oregon L2021.23.1 

In contrast to children at play depicted in numerous other works of art on view in this exhibition, this lithograph shows a child at work. Young girls carrying laundry were commonplace in the streets of Paris in the 1890s; by the mid-1800s, more than one-fifth of the population of the city and its environs was employed by the laundry trade. 

[Artwork description: Lithograph on cream paper. A petite woman wearing a long black coat with a hood and black boots carries a large basket of laundry with a white sheet on top and leans on an upside down black umbrella with a gold tip and handle. She walks away from the viewer on a wide tan street that has several tan squares resembling cobblestone spread throughout it. The woman walks towards a small white dog with orangish brown spots and a small curled tail. The top of the lithograph has a broad sidewalk in front of a red building with black windows, a black lamp post, and a long white wall with dirt or scuffs along the bottom.]

Private Lives » The Nabi City