2008.487.212 Pierre Bonnard
France Champagne, 1891, 1lithograph, 30 ½ x 22 ¾
Author: Megan Yoshida
Known traditionally for his vivid use of color, one may not initially recognize this work as a Bonnard. The lithograph was designed by Bonnard in an effort to synthesize art with popular forms such as magazines, posters, and murals. Through his cooperation with a French champagne firm, Bonnard successfully meshed fine art and advertising with France Champagne.
The woman who is the center focus of the print embodies the theme of luxury through her gestures and accessories. These fashionable details point to the intent of the work, to draw consumers into the life of luxury and excess. Her overflowingly effervescent glass of champagne and faint blushing expression exemplify the joyous time that she must be having. Even the fact that she is consuming alcohol in the first place is a sign of wealth and privilege.
Bonnard creates movement around the composition through his use of flowing lines that mimic the experience of consuming this luxury champagne. The heavy black lines that are used for all the text elements contrast with the light yellow-orange that is found consistently through all other elements of the work with the intent of highlighting the brand (this is an advertisement after all). Thinner outlines define more delicate areas, such as the woman’s facial expression as well as the floating bubbles that fill the bottom third of the work. The combination and juxtaposition of these details makes the image jump off the page while the lively environment crafted by Bonnard entices the audience to jump in.
France Champagne was one of Bonnard’s most well-known and best recognized works. Whether that is due to its nature as a lithographic advertisement, and thus experienced mass reproduction for public view or simply because the audience at the time was enchanted by affluence is unclear. We can note, however, that it has remained among his most popular graphic works and can be seen in several exhibits across the globe. As a member of Les Nabis, Bonnard was not unaccustomed to having his works shown in an artistically professional setting, though many scholars agree that his true success came with his works made for the public, such as France Champagne.