Yesterday I spend hours in Amsterdam. I walked the city, enjoying its history and current atmospheres. Capitals are such a delight, especially when you walk slightly off the beaten tourist track. See where the real people live.
I visited museum l’Hermitage, which is a Dutch dependance of l’Hermitage in Saint Petersburg in Russia. Thanks to the historical appreciation our two countries share, starting when Peter the Great came to Holland and admired our skill in building sea vessels.
It showed some works by Gaugain, Bonnard and Denis that usually are in Russia, in the magnificient Winter Palace.
I came for Bonnard.
They showed Mediterrenean View. A tryptich commissioned by the wealthy Russian collector Ivan Morozov who fell for these painters when they were alive and painting. He commissioned Denis to illuminate his grand ball room. It was reconstructed in Amsterdam and I see why it was the talk of the town, back in the day.
Bonnards work is also large. Three canvasses about 2 m wide and 4 m high each. They were hung with two mock collumns in front, to mimic how it would have looked in the russian house.
I spend all in all an hour and a half in front of the painting. Thinking new things, seeing new things all the time. Colours, shapes, combinations, claire-obscure.
It was a lovely time.
My artist’ blood started flowing again.
PS there are some quirky things in this painting!
- What’s the bright red and blue shed doing in the far right? Bonnard is all about pastels, why feel the need to insert these bright blobs?
- Who in their right mind puts warm egg yolk yellow in the green lushes of a tree? Bonnard, that’s who. In the top of the middle panel.
- The right panel has clear dark and light shapes playing against each other. The left panel does not however. Does that make this painting lob sided? If not, why not?
- some parts have gotten no paint at all, the bare beige canvas is just showing. What guts to send it to a collector and declare it finished!
- On the left, that’s his wife. Playing with a cat. Guts! And a cat nut. You’d be surprised how much paintings of Bonnard have a cat in them.