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Dans Le Cabinet de Toilette, 1907

Lorraine Mariner

I’m looking at one of Bonnard’s standing nudes

thinking again how much I like his paintings

when my companion for the exhibition returns to my side,


having finished already, not feeling compelled

to read every single caption, and asks me

Why is she wearing a pair of high heeled shoes


in the bathroom? It’s true, she’s wearing court shoes

which I hadn’t noticed. She’s naked, drying herself

with a luminous towel, wearing sunset-coloured shoes


and we find another Bonnard nude on another wall

where she’s wearing what could be black slippers

but why would they be pointed? This caption says


it’s his wife, and I remember reading in a catalogue

about Bonnard’s wife being obsessed with cleanliness,

how she was always washing herself, so Bonnard


was always painting her naked in the bathroom

but she must have had issues about the soles of her feet

touching floor tiles. My date has no such problem.


He tells me he loves going barefoot and he couldn’t own

these paintings, those shoes are making him uncomfortable,

and I like Bonnard even more for letting his wife


keep her shoes on and for painting them there.


From The Rialto No 66 (Spring 2009)

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