The Little Laundress (La petite blanchisseuse)

1896 Pierre Bonnard (1867 - 1947)

49.5 cm x 37.8 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

The French artist Pierre Bonnard was brilliant at representing intimate, everyday scenes. This laundrywoman is a beautiful example. The little figure with her big basket creates a simple, touching atmosphere, which is heightened by the little dog.

Bonnard constructed the scene from a series of planes, to which the lithography technique lent itself well. The grey street with its white stones takes up a large part of the image. The silhouette of the laundrywoman stands out strongly against the light background – a pictorial style that derives from Japanese printmaking. The shadow theatre of the print artist Henri Rivière was another source of inspiration. Performances at Le Chat Noir nightclub used figures cut from sheets of zinc, the shadows of which were cast onto a white screen by a bright light. Bonnard and his fellow artists were regular members of the audience.

The Little Laundress comes from the Album des peintres-graveurs, which contained twenty-two prints in a variety of styles and techniques, each by a different artist or engraver. It was offered for sale by the art dealer Ambroise Vollard at 150 francs a copy. Publishing a compilation like this was a way to meet strong demand for prints.

Image: © c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2014

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Object data

Object number
49.5 cm x 37.8 cm, 29.4 cm x 19.8 cm
Catalogue raisonné
Roger-Marx 42, Bouvet 40


signature and date
Bonnard 96
Cl 132


  • [red. par Anisabelle Berès ; avec collaboration Geneviève Aitken et Brigitte Letonturier], Au temps des Nabis, 1990, no. 39-40
  • Jean-Louis Prat, Bonnard, 1999, p. 218
  • par Claude Roger-Marx, Bonnard lithographe, 1952, p. 77, 80-81
  • Ursula Perucchi-Petri, Die Nabis und das moderne Paris : Bonnard, Vuillard, Vallotton und Toulouse-Lautrec, aus der Sammlung Arthur und Hedy Hahnloser-Bühler und aus Schweizer Museums- und Privatbesitz, 2001, p. 63-68
  • cat. researched and prepared by William Weston, Masterworks in lithography : Pierre Bonnard 1867-1947, Édouard Vuillard 1868-1940, 1996, no. 8
  • Hrsg. von Claire Frèches-Thory und Ursula Perucchi-Petri, Die Nabis : Propheten der Moderne, 1993, p. 436-437
  • [Claire Frèches-Thory, Ursula Perucchi-Petri], Nabis 1888-1900 : Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Georges Lacombe, Aristide Maillol, Paul-Elie Ranson, József Rippl-Rónai, Kerr-Xavier Roussel, Paul Sérusier, Félix Vallotton, Jan Verkade, Edouard Vuillard, 1993, no.250-251
  • par François Fossier, La nébuleuse Nabie : les Nabis et l'art graphique, 1993, p. 108, 117, 119
  • Colta Ives, Helen Giambruni, Sasha M. Newman, Pierre Bonnard : the graphic art, cop. 1989, no. 48-51
  • John Ittmann, Post-impressionist prints : Paris in the 1890s, 1998, p. 52-56