Pierre Bonnard, L'Indolente, oil on canvas, 1899.

“What about this?” I asked.

It was a painting of a naked girl on the bed, her legs open, just a floss of hair there and some strange diaphanous smoke, or a scarf, floating above her thigh. Her arm was draped over her breasts, her hair flowing behind her, the bed tilted as if you could enter the painting—an invitation. At the bottom of the bed, the sheets looked drenched in ink, or like storm clouds, the whole painting in thick light, the girl revealing nothing about herself but her sex, locked up in some great interior mystery, but maybe that was the mystery of youth, of her being just a bud of a girl, that her life had yet to take hold of her, and in fact, was about to happen.

“I wish it could move,” I said.


“I wish I could see what happens next. I wonder who her lover is, where her parents are, who she is. What is it called?” I asked, touching the shiny plastic sheet that held the print.

Femme assoupie sur un lit, woman asleep on a bed, or L’Indolente, idle girl.”

“But who is she?”