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Cupboard, 1891-1893

Émile Bernard
French, 1868-1941
Carved and painted wood
95 x 59 x 20 in. (241.3 x 149.9 x 50.8 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon

On view

Like Gauguin and the other Synthetists, Bernard admired folk art, particularly the crafts of Brittany. Increasingly drawn to Catholic mysticism in the early 1890s, he regarded the Bretons’ religious faith with reverence. Adorned with flowers, trees, and women picking apples in a kind of Breton Eden, this cabinet exemplifies Bernard’s desire to return art to its origins in craft, creating a beautiful and meaningful object for everyday use. Although the original purpose or source of the commission is unknown, this cabinet is likely the same mentioned by the artist’s sister, Madeleine, in her letters; it remained in the Bernard family until the 1920s.

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