This exhibition represents decorative ensembles of Postimressionistic
artists, founders of Nabi Group Maurice Denis The History of Psyche and
Pierre Bonnard Mediterranian. In 1907 the collector Ivan Morozov commissioned
Denis to produce a series to decorate the concert room in his Moscow mansion
in Prechistenka Street. The artist depicted several episodes from one
of the stories in Apuleius's Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass. People's
admiration for the beautiful young Psyche made Venus jealous and angry.
She sent Cupid to make the young girl fall in love with a man of human
origin. Nonetheless, enamoured by Psyche's beauty Cupid fell in love with
her. Assisted by Zephyr he hid Psyche in his palace. Psyche promised her
secret lover never to look at his face, but her evil elder sisters induced
the girl to break her promise, which caused Psyche's long and painful
wanderings. The story ends happily - Cupid carried the consent of Jupiter
to marry Psyche. Apuleius's story is both a tale and allegory - the soul
(Psyche) strives for the interflow with love (Cupid).. In creating this
series Denis used the compositions and colours set out in the preliminary
studies produced in the Villa Bella in Florence. In the panel Zephyr Carries
Psyche to the Island of Bliss the artist depicted the island of Isola
Bella on lake Maggiore, and Denis's impression from the Guisti Gardens
in Verona can be traced in the panel The Vengeance of Venus. The prototype
for Venus in the panel In the Presence of Gods Jupiter Bestows Immortality
on Psyche and Celebrates her marriage to Cupid was the artist's wife Marthe
Denis, and he painted the Olympian gods from his friends: Mars from Roussel
and Bacchis from Maillol. In January 1909 Denis came to Moscow on Morozov's
invitation to reworked certain sections in his panels; he made them a
little more restrained in keeping with the architecture of the room. He
also produced two more large panels above the door; these were Psyche's
Kin Bid her Farewell on a Mountain Top and Cupid Carries Psyche up to
Heaven. Besides, he painted two ornamental borders on the sides of the
door. In January 1910, with the Galerie Barnheim-Jeun's assistance Ivan
Morozov commissioned Pierre Bonnard to produce a triptych Mediterranian
to decorate the staircase in his mansion in Prechistenka Street in Moscow.
In 1912 Bonnard depicted two more large panels additional to the triptych;
these are The Early Spring in the Country and Autumn: Fruit Picking (both
in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow). In June 1909 he produced
the sketch View of Saint-Tropez or The Alley (Hahnloser Collection, Berne),
which formed the basis for the central panel of the triptych.. Bonnard
finished the triptych by May 1911. In November it was exhibited in the
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune then in the Salon d'Automne and finally sent to
Moscow. When the State Museum of New Western Art in Moscow was closed
in 1948, this triptych was transferred to the State Hermitage Museum.
Actually, the triptych is a single picture divided into three panels.
All the sections have the same scale and landscape, but at the same time
each of them looks like an independent painting.
Zephyr Transporting Psyche to the Island of Delight.