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Our Lady Collegiate church in Vernon
A whole site dedicated to this monumeent (in English)
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Vernon half-timbered houses
A whole site about our numerous old houses (In French only, sorry !)
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Vernon Giverny Website auf deutsch

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The Old Mill in Vernon
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Monet's house and garden at Giverny
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The XIIth c. castle keep in Vernon
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Visits, indeed, but there are so many other things to do in Vernon
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Walking and cycling around Vernon
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Museums in Vernon (paintings by Monet) and Giverny
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A walk in the streets of Giverny
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The water lily pond at Giverny
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Tourelles castle in Vernon
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Pierre Bonnard in Vernon



Vernon, only 3 kilometres from Giverny, is rightly proud of Claude Monet, but Vernon also boasts another major painter, Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947 ) who spent 16 years of his life there in a house called  " Ma Roulotte " (My gipsy caravan). He settled in Vernon in 1910  for the light of the sky  certainly, the charm of the house probably,  but mainly  for the magnificent view over the river Seine. With his companion Marthe, he enjoyed rowing on the river around the numerous islands.

He rented the house in 1910, bought it two years later. and used it as a subject for his painting until 1938, when he sold the house  to go and live in the south of France.

Bonnard was a precocious artist and  hardly was he 20 when he was already in the Parisian vanguard, part of a group of young painters, with his lifelong friend Edouard Vuillard, who called themselves the Nabi (the prophets)
But soon after 1900, he adopted another style of painting that followed the Impressionist tradition, which he modified by his innate sense of decoration and drawing.  Unlike impressionist painters, he preferred painting in his studio rather than in the open air and he structured his compositions with formal pattern. He worked from memory with occasional references to notes or sketches done previously and created very formal and well-structured arrangements while playing with colours.


Bonnard and Marthe on the terrace at Ma Roulotte


Terrace at Vernonnet
In the years 1920s, in Vernon, he painted a lot of landscapes. Like the impressionists, Bonnard was attracted by nature but he did not try to show reality but to reconstruct it so that his palette assumes the colours of the sun and not of the Norman greyness that often prevails : In the paintings showing Ma Roulotte walls are orange-coloured and the trees mauve, as they are in the later paintings filled with Mediterranean light.


(Click the photos to enlarge)

The garden under the snow, sunset, 1910

Pierre Bonnard is now recognised as a major  artist, but was overshadowed by others as he was  very discreet, leading a quite unobtrusive life. As La roulotte is located   a few kilometres from Giverny, where Monet lived for almost 30 years, the two men became close friends. Unlike Monet though, Bonnard did not grow a carefully planned garden. At his house in Vernonnet, Ma Roulotte , the garden was an overgrown jungle of wildflowers and trees. Bonnard painted the view from his window, from the balcony on the neighbouring hills. He captured the rich vegetation of the Seine valley, often showing  concern for emotional truth but little interest in visual and topographical details.


J
Day drawing to a close, Vernon, evening


The Seine at Vernon,1925

Marthe

The Bath

There is a sharp contrast between his depictions of bourgeois life and leisure, and his re-created landscapes,  Bonnard also painted voluptuous, almost risqué nudes.  Marthe, his model, usually appears in the bathroom, in the tub or stepping out of it. He always painted her as a young woman, even when t both the painter and his model  were old.


  
Ma Roulotte at vernonnet, 1930


Coffee, 1915

House among the trees, 1918


        

Vernon Museum displays three works that are typical of Bonnard’s art :

- "Vallée de la Seine à Rolleboise" ( the Seine valley at Rolleboise)  with dull colours, a very Nabi-looking painting  painted around 1900
- "Vue du balcon sur la Seine, 1911", (View from the balcony over the Seine, 1911)  a study depicting the landscape from the balcony of his house in Vernon: Itis typical of Bonnard’s art with with warm colours that are unexpected n Normandy and a re-constructed landscape.
- "Femme au Tub, debout". (Woman standing in the tub) A drawing made around 1920 , a good example  of the numerous works showing his model in the bathroom, in the tub or stepping out of it .