The French artist Pierre Bonnard created more than two thousand paintings, many of them now dispersed around museums across the world. He painted in a slightly eccentric manner—on unstretched canvas—and often worked on these paintings over decades. They typically depict closed spaces, interiors, that open out to vistas beyond the room. He also produced a number of self-portraits and a very large number of paintings depicting his muse, Marthe, often going about her toilette. Almost of all these paintings have very strange effects—for the most part overlooked by viewers from his own time to today. These effects, which Peter de Bolla calls “ghosts,” are often depictions hiding in plain sight. In this essay, de Bolla patiently explores how such effects can be seen in one painting, La salle à manger sur le jardin (1930–31), leading the viewer into the strange world Bonnard depicted.

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