Bernard entered the atelier of Cormon, a Salon artist, in 1884 and studied together with Toulouse-Lautrec and van Gogh. Later, he was enchanted by the old and mystic manners, customs, and culture in Brittany and began to work there frequently. The artistic style he created with his comrade Louis Anquetin and others was characterized by thick contours and simplified colors. It reflected the influences of various arts such as Japanese art, medieval art, and primitive art. In 1888, he met Gauguin, who was staying in Pont-Aven, and worked together with him. Their formative theory was referred to as "Synthetism" and Bernard became a follower of the new theory.
Bernard was also friendly with Cézanne and created geometrically composed works reflecting Cézanne's influence. In 1891, he parted from Gauguin and, in 1893-94, proceeded to Italy and Egypt. From then on, he explored new styles, showing interest in traditional religious art, popular art, and Orientalism.
Bernard's reputation as an artist has yet to be established, but his activities through his wide-ranging acquaintances deserve special mention. The numerous letters and art critiques exchanged with van Gogh, Cézanne, Gauguin, and others serve as indispensable reference material in discussing the art of this period. Bernard's friends included not only artists but also the fin-de-siècle literati. He was a member of the "Order de la Rose Croix Catholique et Esthétique du Temple et du Graal" created by Joséphin Péladan.
（source：Masterpieces of the National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 2009, p.158)