Pierre Bonnard’s beginnings were influenced by the sinuous lines and hues of Paul Gauguin, and his late works inspired Mark Rothko, the ultimate colorist of the abstract age. He is known for his scenes of daily life, centering on his own extended family; for his complex depictions of interiors, often inhabited by his wife, Marthe; for his depictions of Marthe at her toilette or in her bath; and, finally, for his landscapes, which depict with equal joy his garden at Vernon in Normandy and his house and its environs at Le Cannet. In 1926, he purchased a property near the village, just north of Cannes on the Mediterranean, seeking in the warm climate of the French Riviera an environment that would be good for Marthe’s health.
Landscape at Le Cannet is the most ambitious depiction of the world that was the central setting in Bonnard’s art for the final decades of his life. Taking a position on the hill above his home, which he had christened “Le Bosquet” for the grove of trees that surrounded it, Bonnard looked to the west, toward the Esterel mountains. The roof of Le Bosquet, near the tree at center of the composition, gives a sense of Bonnard’s personal scale in the context of the panorama; the two hillocks in the foreground fall towards the pathway that borders the rear of Bonnard’s property, where a girl and her dog can be seen passing by. Bonnard places himself in the right foreground, beside a pair of goats; a cow stands among spiky plants at the other side of the canvas. Suffused with warm light and with a rainbow-like array of colors, the painting was intended to decorate the home of a distinguished collector on the outskirts of Paris.