‘L’Estérel’ refers to the mountain range on the Mediterranean coast of southwest France, where Pierre Bonnard bought a house in 1926. In broad, rapid strokes, Bonnard painted a sunlit scene that is constructed of layers on top of one another: the cadmium-yellow beach and people, the turquoise and lilac sea with a sailing boat floating on it, the purple mountains and the blue of the sky above, with its white clouds. The way the picture is cut off at the edges makes it obvious that Bonnard used photography in creating this work. Although Bonnard is regarded as an Impressionist, his methods were significantly different. He did not paint outside, but took photographs or did drawings, making annotations about the colour and then later developing the work in his studio. He often worked on one composition for months. What immediately strikes the viewer is Bonnard’s expressive colour palette. His use of bright, contrasting colours and chiaroscuro effects creates a sophisticated interplay of light and shadow.




Production date



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56 x 73cm.


paint on canvas

Object number

A 1817