Clearly Bonnard found it no hardship to devote himself to motifs available in and around his modest house. He is not a painter hungering for grand designs. He led a serene life (at least compared with Van Gogh and Gauguin) and Edouard Vuillard, a painter of homely interiors, was among his closest friends. Even Bonnard's landscapes, recording the stunning views he enjoyed of the mountains and the Bay of Cannes, have an intimate quality. In the sunny warmth of his palette he resembles Renoir. Indeed, the older painter once told him: "You have a note of charm. Do not neglect it . . . It is a precious gift."
Bonnard's charm lies in his lyrical mastery of colour. While retaining the bright, stippled effects of the Impressionists, he turned their practice of registering the sensation of light into something more personal. Unlike them, Bonnard almost never painted out of doors or in front of his subject. When he saw a motif that moved him, he made a quick drawing of it; the actual painting took place in the studio, where he tried to recapture the character of his emotion: "It is a matter of never giving up until one has recreated that first impression."
All of the almost 80 works on display radiate Bonnard's special luminous appeal, but it is the interior scenes which may exercise the most enduring attraction. A picture simply called "Dessert" is the epitome of pleasure, with grapes, figs and other fruit enveloped by a vibrant yellow tablecloth. "The French Window" artfully combines a landscape in the distance, a portrait of Bonnard's wife and a small self-portrait as well. The faithful difficult Marthe appears again in one of the exhibition's most startling paintings, "Nude in Bathtub", in which water, tub, flesh and tiles compose a quietly breathtaking arrangement of hues.
Bonnard has not always been granted the respect he deserves. The mighty Picasso found him too self-effacing, incapable of imposing his will on a subject in the great man's own style. But another of Bonnard's contemporary wall art, Matisse, had no doubts. For him, Bonnard was "a great painter, for today and surely for the future". Art lovers who visit this restful, refreshing show will probably find themselves agreeing with Matisse rather than Picasso.