Pierre Bonnard

The Bowl of Milk


In Tate Modern

Pierre Bonnard 1867–1947
Original title
Le Bol de lait
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1162 × 1210 mm
frame: 1380 × 1435 × 140 mm
Bequeathed by Edward Le Bas 1967

Display caption

Bonnard painted this work in the south of France. He moved there during the First World War with his partner Marthe de Méligny, pictured here. This view is of the room they rented. Light reflected from the sea pours through the balcony window. The strong light leaves many details in shadow, including de Méligny’s face and the cat awaiting its milk. Preparatory drawings show Bonnard testing a variety of details and poses before he brought them together in the final painting.

Gallery label, February 2020

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Catalogue entry

Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947

T00936 Le Bol de Lait (The Bowl of Milk) c.1919

Inscribed 'Bonnard' b.l.

Oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 47 5/8 (116 x 121)
Bequeathed by Edward Le Bas 1967
Prov: With Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (purchased from the artist, 28 January 1920); Georges Ménier, Paris, 1922; with Rosenberg and Helft, London; Edward Le Bas, London, 1937 or 1938
Exh: Salon des Indépendants, Paris, January-February 1920 (488) as 'Intérieur'; Tableaux de Pierre Bonnard de 1891 à 1922, Galerie E. Druet, Paris, April 1924 (58) as 'Intérieur à Antibes' 1920; Bonnard and Vuillard, Rosenberg and Helft, London, September-October 1937 (6, repr.) as 'Le Bol de Lait'; Autumn Exhibition, Brighton Art Gallery, October-December 1947 (29); Paintings by Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, RSA, Edinburgh, August-September 1948 (44); Bonnard, Roland, Browse and Delbanco, London, June 1950 (2); A Painter's Collection, RA Diploma Gallery, London, March-April 1963 (113); Pierre Bonnard, RA, London, January-March 1966 (143)
Lit: Patrick Heron, The Changing Forms of Art (London 1955), pp.123-4, repr. pl.25; Denys Sutton, Bonnard (London 1957), p.16, repr. in colour p.17 and on cover; Ronald Alley, 'Bonnard's "Le Bol de Lait"' in Burlington Magazine, CX, 1968, p.216, repr. p.218; Jean and Henry Dauberville, Bonnard (Paris 1974), No.02156, Vol.4, p.410 repr. as 'Le Bol de Lait' c.1919
Repr: Bulletin de la Vie Artistique, I, No.5, February 1920, p.152

This painting was first exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1920 as 'Interior', then at the Galerie Druet in 1924 as 'Interior at Antibes' and at Rosenberg and Helft in 1937 as 'The Bowl of Milk'. An old label on the back gives the further title 'Fillette en rose' (Girl in pink).

The same room and window, and some of the same pieces of furniture, appear in a smaller picture entitled 'Luminous Interior, Antibes' (58 x 63cm, Dauberville No.980), which was bought from the artist on 12 March 1919. There are also two other pictures painted in 1919 which show the same apartment at Antibes and probably the same room (Dauberville Nos.976 and 978).

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.65-6, reproduced p.65 and front of dust-jacket in colour


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