Painter, printmaker, book-illustrator and graphic artist, Bonnard was born near Paris; and originally studied law before attending the École des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian. Here he met Vuillard, Sérusier and Denis, artists with whom he was to have a lasting association. Producing his first poster in 1889, Bonnard undertook a brief spell of military service before taking a Paris studio with Vuilllard.
From 1891 Bonnard began exhibiting regularly at the Salon des Indépendants and producing designs for the Parisian theatre. It was at this time that Bonnard became a member of "Les Nabis" - a group determined to move away from the rigid format of the easel-picture, choosing instead to work on posters, theatrical designs, book-illustrations, screens and tapestries. Citing their influences as Gauguin, the Post- Impressionists and Japanese prints, Bonnard became known within the group as "Le Nabi-Japonard", Bonnard emerged from this period a master of lithography, perfecting shape, color and line with great subtlety.
In 1894 Bonnard was introduced to Vollard, a meeting that was to lead to the publication of his famed lithographs "Quelques Aspects de la Vie de Paris" (1895), Parallement (1900) and Daphnis and Chloe (1902). In 1895 Bonnard met Maria Boursin, his mistress, model and later wife in 1925. Buying a small villa in Southern France in this same year, it was here that Bonnard spent his final years up to his death in 1947.