In the 1890s Bonnard established himself among the leading advanced painters in Paris. He, along with his friend the painter Édouard Vuillard, was loosely affiliated with the Nabis, a group who reacted against Impressionism’s “window open on nature” in favor of an art more clearly aligned to symbolism. Bonnard, like Vuillard, was an intimist, but his private world was given over to more erotic images. He was thirty-eight when he painted this richly evocative interior with a nude. The model was almost certainly Marthe, whom Bonnard had met in 1894 and who became not only his model, but also his constant companion, and, in 1925, his wife. Bonnard has here clearly worked and reworked her pose, particularly in the left shoulder, in order to create a monumental presence.
Woman Undressing, c. 1905
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Anne Parrish Titzell, by exchange, 1991.1