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The bather was almost certainly Bonnard's companion and wife-to-be Marthe, who was the artist's constant and favourite model. Like Degas before him, Bonnard liked to present his nude female figures in domestic settings, caught in mid-movement during some act of their toilette. He sketched and photographed Marthe as she bathed and dressed, and used these images as a reminder when executing his oil paintings in the studio. As shown in this painting, Bonnard was particularly interested in the play of reflections of coloured light on the body and the room.

August 2004