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Big in D.C. & A Boesky Discovery

Pierre Bonnard painting art museum
Despite being somewhat out of favor, Bonnard has been gaining visibility in museum and gallery shows over the last half-dozen years. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images
Marion Maneker
April 28, 2024

White House Correspondents’ Dinner weekend gave me the perfect excuse to duck in at the Phillips Collection to see Bonnard’s Worlds, a rare show of Pierre Bonnard’s paintings, and the Phillips’ biggest show in 20 years. I couldn’t stop by the show without having lunch with Jonathan Binstock, the director and C.E.O. of the Phillips Collection, who is now beginning his second year in the role. 

pierre bonnard, Nude in Bathtub
Pierre Bonnard, Nude in Bathtub (1941–46) Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh

Bonnard’s market appeal has waned in recent years. His colorful work is more associated with the aftereffects of Impressionism and early Modern movements, even though there are a range of Contemporary artists who work with color palettes akin to his. When Paul Allen’s art was sold a year and a half ago, his prized Bonnard—Deux corbeilles de fruits, from 1935—made $6.66 million. That might seem like a strong price. But Allen had purchased the work for $8.5 million in 2006. When you adjust for inflation, the painting lost half its value in 16 years. (Though there was a record auction price of $19.5 million made for one of his large terrace views just five years ago.)