The Little Laundress (La petite blanchisseuse)

1896 Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947)

49.5 cm x 37.8 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)


The French artist Pierre Bonnard was brilliant at representing intimate, everyday scenes. This laundrywoman is a beautiful example. The little figure with her big basket creates a simple, touching atmosphere, which is heightened by the little dog.

Bonnard constructed the scene from a series of planes, to which the lithography technique lent itself well. The grey street with its white stones takes up a large part of the image. The silhouette of the laundrywoman stands out strongly against the light background – a pictorial style that derives from Japanese printmaking. The shadow theatre of the print artist Henri Rivière was another source of inspiration. Performances at Le Chat Noir nightclub used figures cut from sheets of zinc, the shadows of which were cast onto a white screen by a bright light. Bonnard and his fellow artists were regular members of the audience.

The Little Laundress comes from the Album des peintres-graveurs, which contained twenty-two prints in a variety of styles and techniques, each by a different artist or engraver. It was offered for sale by the art dealer Ambroise Vollard at 150 francs a copy. Publishing a compilation like this was a way to meet strong demand for prints.

Image: © c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2014

What is it?
What can you see?
Context
printmaker
printer
publisher

Object data

Object number
p1108V2000
Dimensions
49.5 cm x 37.8 cm, 29.4 cm x 19.8 cm
Catalogue raisonné
Roger-Marx 42, Bouvet 40

Inscription/label

signature and date
Bonnard 96
number
Cl 132

Literature

  • ed. Rebecca A. Rabinow ; Douglas W. Druick, Ann Dumas ... [et al.], Cézanne to Picasso : Ambroise Vollard, patron of the Avant-Garde, 2006, p. 189-196
  • Véronique Serrano, Dessins de Pierre Bonnard : une collection privée, 2007, p. 20-21
  • Ursula Perucchi-Petri ; Vorwort Eduard Hüttinger, Die Nabis und Japan : das Frühwerk von Bonnard, Vuillard und Denis, 1976, p. 76
  • Colta Feller Ives, The great wave : the influence of Japanese woodcuts on French prints, 1974, p. 56-66
  • Gabriel P. Weisberg ...[et al.], Japonisme : Japanese influence on French art 1854-1910, 1975, p. 104-105
  • Fleur Roos Rosa de Calvalho, Prints in Paris 1900 : from elite to the street, 2017, p. 28, 123
  • Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho, Prints in Paris 1900 : van elitair tot populair, 2017, p. 28, 123
  • Ed. by Elizabeth W. Easton ; with contributions by Clément Chéroux, Saskia Ooms, Hans Rooseboom ... [et al.], Snapshot : painters and photography 1888-1915, 2011
  • Georges Roque, La stratégie de Bonnard : couleur, lumière, regard, 2006, p. 189
  • David A. Brenneman ; with contributions from Riva Castleman, Laura Dickey, Frances Fowle ... [et al.], Toulouse-Lautrec & friends : the Irene and Howard Stein collection, 2010, p. 110-113