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Visiting France

Bonnard paintings fetch almost a million euros each at French auction

media La Promenade by Pierre Bonnard. Osenat

A collection of about 100 paintings, sketches and memorabilia from French painter Pierre Bonnard fetched 5.5 million euros at an auction in Fontainebleau near Paris on Sunday. Two paintings sold for nearly a million euros each.

A self-portrait by Bonnard almost broke the million-euro mark, selling for 960,000 euros to an American art lover and dwarfing its pre-sale estimate of 250,000 euros.

The painting, dated 1889 when Bonnard was 22, was the first painting of a long series of self-portraits by the artist.

"This painting was done in 1889 at the beginning of Nabisme [the late 19th-century movement with which Bonnard was associated], he had just met Serusier and Gauguin," said French auctioneer Jean-Pierre Osenat.

Also in the collection, which belonged to Bonnard's nephew Antoine Terrasse, was the 1900 La Promenade.

With a pre-sale estimated price of 250,000-300,000 euros, La Promenade hit a record on Sunday and was sold for 970,000 euros to a New York collector.

"Most pieces have been bought by American and British art lovers," Osenat said.

For those who do not have hundreds of thousands of euros to spare, Bonnard's work is currently being exhibited at Paris's Musée d'Orsay in a retrospective called Peindre l'Arcadie.

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