Study of Two Balinese Girls (c.1935)

RUDOLF BONNET (1895-1978)

Charcoal on paper; signed upper left
In period gilt frame

66.5cm x 80.5cm in the frame


‘My work might be interpreted as a unit, as a single portrayal of a race. It is a story. The story of a peasant class, preserved in its classical state, and part of a people whose background spans the centuries.’ (Rudolf Bonnet)

Johan Rudolf Bonnet was a Dutch painter famous for his depictions of and philanthropic support for the Balinese people.

Carrying with him the spirit of the renaissance painters, and a romantic notion of the pure human form, Bonnet arrived in Bali in 1929 and settled in Ubud, the island’s artistic and cultural centre, where he would spend much of his life. Despite being forced into Japanese captivity during WW2 and exiled in 1957 by Sukarno (the newly appointed president of unified Indonesia) for refusing to sell him one of his paintings (he was pardoned and able to return in 1972), Bonnet never wavered in his devotion to Bali’s people, culture and heritage. He died in 1978; his body being cremated in a traditional ceremony in Ubud along with his lifelong friend, Sukawati. Their ashes were mixed and spread at sea off the coast.

This sketch of two Balinese girls going about their daily chores perfectly conveys the deep reverence Bonnet felt for his Balinese subjects. They are classical not exotic beauties – natural, serene, dignified and timelessly lovely.

Rudolf Bonnet’s work has been offered at auction multiple times, the record price being 3,339,058 USD for Market Scene sold at Christie’s, Hong Kong in 2015.

If you would like to buy this picture (or see some more photographs), arrange a viewing or if you would just like to get in touch, then please call 01608-658003 or email [email protected]