History And Context
One of several monumental Seine Valley landscape paintings by Bonnard, The Terrace is inspired by the artist’s verdant view from the terrace of his house at Vernonnet near Vernon. Purchased in 1912, the small home he called Ma Roulette (my caravan) served as a country retreat for the artist and his wife through the 1930s. This particular scene is notable for its broad, panoramic view that extends from the terrace to the garden and beyond at the far right to the river Seine. Bonnard shared his passion for gardens with his close friend Claude Monet, whose nearby Giverny was just across the river from Vernon. But unlike Monet’s glorious cultivated gardens, Bonnard reveled in their natural “savage” state, as evidenced in the wildly overgrown landscape that dominates the view in this painting, known by the French title “Jardin Sauvage.” Bonnard evokes the tension between the natural and the manmade worlds by juxtaposing the “untamed” landscape with the sense of an ordered world implied by the round table, terrace, and potted plants in the foreground. The painting is a beautiful example of Bonnard’s expressive paint handling and touch, ranging from squiggles, dabs and dashes to strokes, commas and spiral scrolls.