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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.
Maurice Denis
Larger view


The Mediterranean.
Bonnard, Pierre.
Larger view

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