Women Bathing

Émile Bernard

Bañistas

Bernard, Émile

Lille, 1868 - París, 1941

Women Bathing,1889

© Emile Bernard, VEGAP, Madrid, 2015

Signed & dated lower right: ''E. Bernard 1889''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

Oil on canvas

47 x 57,2 x 0 cm

CTB.1999.115

Artwork history

  • Christie’s Auctions, London, lot 166, December 7, 1999

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

1936

Èmile Bernard, Tokio, National Society of Fine Arts, n. 37

1959

L´Époque de Pont-Aven, París, Galerie Durand-Ruel, n. 25

2000

Del impresionismo a la vanguardia en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, México, DF, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, p. 90

2000

Del post-impresionismo a las vanguardias. Pintura de comienzos del siglo XX en la Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Valencia, IVAM Centre Julio González, n. 2, p. 30

2000 - 2001

La Révolte de la couleur. De l'impressionnisme aux Avant-gardes. Chefs-d'oeuvre de la Collection Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Bruselas, Musée d'Ixelles, n. 14, p. 54

2004 - 2005

Gauguin y los orígenes del simbolismo, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Sala de las Alhajas, n. 47, p. 163

2011

La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, p. 98, lám. p. 99

2014

Cézanne site/non-site, Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, n. 18, p. 87, lám.

2015

Barcelona, París, New York. D´Urgell a O´Keeffe. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guixols, 2015.

2018

Mediterráneo. Una Arcadia reinventada. De Signac a Picasso. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga. Cat. 2, p. 52 y 53.

2018 - 2019

Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. p. 28-29 y p. 76-77.

  • -Émile Bernard. París, La Rénovation esthétique, 1933. Les Rénovateurs, lám. 7.

  • -Luthi, J. J.: Émile Bernard, catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint. París, 1982, n. 208, p. 35, lám.

  • -Christie, Manson & Woods: Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art. [Auction Cat.]. London, December 7, 1999 , p. 84, lám.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 100, lám. p. 101 [ Sheet by Guillermo Solana]

  • -Fonsmark, Anne-Birgitte: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Bernard. Friction of Ideas. [Exhib. Cat.] Charlottenlund, Ordrupgaard, 2014 , n. 147, cit. p. 165, lám. pp. 164-165.

  • -Barcelona, París, New York. D´Urgell a O´Keeffe. Col.lecció Carmen Thyssen. Espai Carmen Thyssen, Sant Feliu de Guixols, 2015, pp. 90. (Exhib. cat.).

  • -Mediterráneo. Una Arcadia reinventada. De Signac a Picasso. Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, [Exhib. Cat.], 2018. Cat. 2, p. 52 y 53.

  • – Femina Feminae. Muses and the collector. From Piazetta to Delaunay. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra. [Exhib. Cat. Museu Carmen Thyssen Andorra], 2018. P. 28-29 y p. 76-77 [Sheet by Guillermo Solana]

Expert report

In 1887, working in collaboration with his friend Louis Anquetin, Émile Bernard created a painting style based on flat colours enclosed within thick simplified outlines, somewhat like the popular images d’Épinal and Japanese prints. The style received the name of cloisonnism, due to its similarity to the appearance of cloisonné (enamel inlaid in sections), whose surface is divided into compartments to prevent the pigments mixing before and during firing.

Anquetin and Bernard’s cloisonnism represented a decided break from Impressionism. The Impressionist vision, accentuating reflections of light from certain bodies onto others and the unity of a common atmosphere, tended to dissolve the independence of things. Cloisonnism, on the other hand, isolated objects with a clear, marked outline. This isolation broke away not only from Impressionism but also from the whole tradition of naturalist painting. With the suppression of perspective, shadows and other indications of illusionist space, the composition was reduced to a series of silhouettes outlined against a flat-coloured background. In the summer of 1888 Bernard brought his development of the cloisonnist style to a culmination in a radically innovative painting, Breton Women in the Meadow, which in turn inspired Gauguin to break away from Impressionism in The Vision after the Sermon.

In the present work, far removed from picturesque Breton themes, we still find the essential features of cloissonism and even recollections of Breton Women in the Meadow, with its abrupt changes of scale and the large heads in the foreground. The painting is part of a series of works painted by Bernard in 1889 in connection with a mural (since destroyed) on which the artist was working at the time. One of them was shown in the group exhibition held that year at the Café Volpini and was acquired by the Symbolist poet and critic Albert Aurier. The painting is inspired by the compositions of bathers by Cézanne which Bernard may have seen in Père Tanguy’s shop. The whole picture may be considered a subtle commentary on some of Cézanne’s teachings: the simplified, geometrical outlines, the proportions of the figures (lengthened in a way that also recalls the work of El Greco, rediscovered at that time), the execution based on parallel vertical brushstrokes that unify the surface of the canvas like a tapestry (Bernard admired Cézanne’s “constructive handling”), and the abundant areas of canvas that have been left untouched, barely covered, in the bodies of the bathers.

Guillermo Solana