2/4/13: A Brief Moment in Time
Nu a Contre Jour (Nude Against the Light), Pierre Bonnard
This painting depicts the artist Pierre Bonnard’s wife Marthe as she stands nude letting the sunlight wash over her. The work itself is a prime example of the principle of Intimisme, in which the artist and viewer get a rare glimpse into a moment of a subject’s private life, where emotions and secrets are kept. The tilted up perspective, the mirror in the background, and the way that the subjects is facing all call in play what it means to look, as well as give the viewer a sense that they are viewing this scene almost from above the ground. The way the subject is facing plays a crucial part in why the work is an example of intimisme. She stands facing away and almost seems like she is unaware of the artist or the viewer. The bathtub next to her further enhances the notion of a fleeting moment as she stands, most likely cold after her bath, taking in the sun’s warmth. If you think about it, the work itself is right after a bath, which presumably is the height of cleanliness. Therefore, by capturing this moment, the artist is capturing a moment in time of pure perfection of the love of his life.