Under Starter's Orders (At the Races) (Primary Title)
Sous les Ordres (Donor's Title)

Pierre Bonnard, French, 1867 - 1947 (Artist)

ca. 1911
oil on panel
Unframed: 13 × 19 1/4 in. (33.02 × 48.9 cm)
Framed: 19 5/8 × 25 3/4 in. (49.85 × 65.41 cm)

Early in the 20th century, the racetracks inspired Bonnard as a motif for capturing an important aspect of the Parisian bourgeois social life that deeply fascinated him. He appears to have been less interested in the exclusive relationship between horse and rider than in the spectacle of the public event, and he placed much emphasis on the fashionable spectators in the foreground.

An important member of the Nabi movement, Bonnard profoundly reevaluated the iconographic tradition inherited from the 19th century. In Under Starter’s Orders, the artist radically challenged the conventional aerial perspective by imposing a dominant swatch of green representing the field. He further superimposed horizontal planes of figurative groups, including spectators, horses, and jockeys, to achieve depth in this crudely rendered background. The racing field here becomes the pretext for an experiment in capturing color and luminosity.
signed Bonnard in lower right quadrant
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2018: "Country Life: Masterpieces from the Mellon Collection of MVFA", Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, France, September 4 - December 2, 2018
©artist or artist’s estate

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