In the first of these two articles looking at paintings of the section of the Mediterranean coast between Marseille and Nice, I showed examples from the late 1890s to 1908, by which time there was a flourishing community of artists living in what were still undiscovered resorts. Henri-Edmond Cross had moved there in 1891, Paul Signac from 1897, Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1907, Théo van Rysselberghe in 1911, Henri Matisse in 1917, and Pierre Bonnard didn’t finally settle there until the 1920s.
Pierre Bonnard’s Woman with Parrot (1910) has intensely bright and hot colours, against which the large blue parrot, some pots, and foliage make contrast. He painted this in Saint-Tropez during a visit in September, basing it on an experience which he wrote about in a letter to his mother, in which he had passed a young dark-haired girl with an enormous blue parrot.
Following the death of Cross in 1910, van Rysselberghe abandoned his last traces of Divisionism. Pines at Pointe Layet (1912) progressed his earlier motifs of pines and the sea, but now on a steep cliff and without beach or bathers. His colours are more sombre again, and his brushstrokes worked in to model texture in the trunks.
Paul Signac later turned to what would today be described as mixed media paintings, as seen in this view of Antibes from 1917.
Théo van Rysselberghe’s style became even more traditional by about 1920, when he painted this group of Bathers on the Côte d’Azur.
Pierre Bonnard’s By the Sea, Under the Pines from 1921 is reminiscent of van Rysselberghe’s richly-coloured pines on the coast, but more sketchy in execution. Instead of van Rysselberghe’s bathing nudes, Bonnard populates the lower third of this painting with a family group: a woman, a dog, and a toddler are in the immediate foreground, and on the far side of a picnic table is the artist’s partner Marthe, under a parasol, talking to a man in a white hat.
Bonnard painted this view of an almost deserted Port of Saint-Tropez (c 1921) on a breezy day, with small wavelets forming on the water surface. The mole at the right ends in a lighthouse, which merges visually with the sailing ship’s superstructure.
Meanwhile in 1923, van Rysselberghe painted this view of The Bay of Saint-Clair, now a popular beach close to Le Lavandou.
Bonnard’s The Riviera from about 1923 shows le Midi in the brilliant white light of the middle of the day, with much of its colour burnt out by dazzle.
Bonnard painted this late Landscape at Le Cannet in 1938.
Henri-Edmond Cross died in Saint-Clair in 1910. Pierre-Auguste Renoir died in Cagnes-sur-Mer in 1919. Théo van Rysselberghe died in Saint-Clair in 1926. Paul Signac died back in Paris in 1935. Pierre Bonnard died in Le Cannet in 1947. Henri Matisse died in Nice in 1954. All that is left in the grand atelier du Midi are their ghosts.