RUDOLF BONNET (1895-1978)
Signed, titled and dated 1943 upper right
Pastel on gouache pigmented paper, 57 x 34 cm
Johan Rudolf Bonnet was born on 30 March 1895 in Holland. He studied at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, specializing in drawing and painting in the academic tradition of the early 20th century. In 1920, he left Holland for Italy, where he would spend the best part of the next eight years, mostly in the village of Anticoli Corrado near Rome. It was in Italy too that he first heard of Bali from W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, the artist-illustrator of the island’s culture, who first visited Bali in 1904, documenting the island’s landscapes, temples, buildings, ceremonies, artifacts, and people.
A family visit to the Dutch Indies on the S.S. Jan Pieterszoon Coen, gave Bonnet his first experience of what is now Indonesia. Once in Java, however, the memory of the photographs Nieuwenkamp had shown him in Italy drew him further east, and he decided to visit Bali, arriving there at the end of January 1929. He was fascinated by the Balinese dance and pageantry and so decided to stay. After two months in Tampaksiring he moved to Peliatan to a pavilion rented from the punggawa of Peliatan, through whom Bonnet was introduced to all the right people in the area, in particular Walter Spies and the princes of the House of Ubud like Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati and Tjokorda Raka Sukawati. Friendship was immediate, and when Spies moved to a new house in Campuhan, Bonnet took over his water palace in Ubud and set up his studio there.
Rudolf Bonnet was one of Bali’s most influential foreign artists. During his time in Bali, Bonnet was well connected with other leading foreign artists such as Walter Spies, Balinese royalty including Tjokorda Gede Agung Sukawati and helped to create the Pita Maha Artists Association as well as Museum Puri Lukisan.