The dipping Path

Pierre Bonnard

El camino encajonado

Bonnard, Pierre

Fontenay-aux-Roses, 1867 - Le Cannet, 1947

The dipping Path, ca. 1922

© Pierre Bonnard, VEGAP, Madrid, 2015

Signed lower centre:''Bonnard''.
Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection on loan to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid.

Oil over pencil on canvas

46,3 x 55,3 cm


Artwork history

  • Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, adquired from the artist, París, 1928

  • Paul de Laboulaye

  • L’Elysée Gallery (Alex Maguy), París

  • Helen Serger Fine Arts, New York

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, New York, lot 82, November 16, 1983

  • Mrs. Carolyn Neugass

  • Sotheby’s Auctions, New York, lot 60,  February 23, 1984

  • Niveau Gallery, New York

  • Christie’s Auctions, New York,  lot 140,  May 9, 2000

  • Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

2000 - 2001

L'impressionisme i la seva empremta en la col·lecció Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Andorra, Sala d'Exposicions del Govern d'Andorra, p. 56, lám. p. 57


La tradición moderna en la Colección Carmen Thyssen. Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Miró, Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga, p. 152, lám. p. 153


Paisatges de llum, paisatges de somni. De Gauguin a Delvaux. Col·lecció Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Espai Carmen Thyssen, p. 74, lám. p. 75

2012 - 2013

Rusiñol, Monet, Gauguin, Sunyer. El paisaje en la Colección Carmen Thyssen, Gerona, CaixaForum; Tarragona, CaixaForum; Lérida, CaixaForum, n. 44, p. 142, lám. p. 143. (sólo Tarragona)

  • -Dauberville, Jean y Henry: Bonnard. Catalogue raisonné de l´oeuvre peint. París, Bernheim, 1965-1975 , vol. 3 (1973), n. 1121, p. 119, lám.

  • -Colección Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza. Arnaldo, Javier (ed.). 2 vols. Madrid, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, 2004, vol. 2, p. 112, lám. p. 113 [Sheet by Guillermo Solana]

Expert report

Although in the first decade of his career Bonnard was primarily a Parisian painter, from 1900 onward he began to move away from the capital. For some time he kept an interest in urban subjects, but towards 1912 landscape painting had become one of his main passions (although not the only one, if we recall his growing dedication to the nude). The artist’s interest in landscapes lasted throughout the decade of the 1920s. In contrast with the Impressionists, Bonnard usually created his landscapes from memory. He would start from a small, quick pencil drawing, executed in ten or fifteen minutes, in the field. Afterwards, (sometimes immediately, other times years later), he would choose the size of the work and begin painting.

In 1922, the period when The Dipping Path was executed, Bonnard painted around twenty-two landscapes of Normandy and of the Côte d’Azur; the north and south of France were the two poles competing for his attention. Charles Terrasse, the artist’s nephew, told Brassaï that Bonnard found the light of the north more interesting than that of the south: “Undoubtedly, my uncle believed that nowhere was the sky so beautiful and changeable as in Deauville, Trouville, Honfleur. And he also loved the trees which are found in the north: the ash trees, the lindens, the chestnuts, the apple trees.” In 1933, Bonnard confessed to an acquaintance, professor Hahnloser: “I cannot paint in the South. There are no colours, there.” If in his southern landscapes, executed in a decorative style and a monumental scale, Bonnard often resorted to mythological allusions; his northern landscapes have a more realistic character and are based exclusively on everyday themes and anecdotes. Such is the case of the landscape we are dealing with, the view of a path near the artist’s house in Vernon, on the banks of the Seine. In Bonnard’s landscapes there are usually hidden presences, which take some time to discover. Here, it is the picturesque and humoristic motif of the hens crossing the path (we find something similar in Gauguin’s Tropical Vegetation, Martinique, of 1887).

In his organisation of the visual field, Bonnard cultivated at the same time two landscape models: an open one, and a closed one. On one hand, we have the landscapes representing a panoramic view, spanning the whole length of the horizon; on the other, the works where the fields or the sea are framed by a window, a balcony or a door (a similar strategy to the use of mirrors for framing figures and objects indoors). In this case, without resorting to such techniques, the path is cut deep into the earth, between the bushes, and framed on the left by the wall of a house surrounded by a fence. Whereas in the panoramic landscapes the fields are seen from a raised point of view, here the opposite takes place: the eye is situated below the horizon, and the dipping ground prevents the beholder from viewing the landscape with a single glance, which provokes a certain sense of enclosure.

Guillermo Solana