Pierre Bonnard. Mediterranean, 1911. Oil on canvas. The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (cat. no. 50)

In January 1910, Pierre Bonnard received a commission for a nearly 14-foot-tall triptych from the important Russian collector Ivan Morozov. Working from photographs of the work’s intended architectural setting, Bonnard created three panels to fit between columns on the landing of a monumental staircase in Morozov’s home. Completed in 1912, these light-filled scenes of women and children on a terrace were inspired by Bonnard’s stay at a villa near Saint-Tropez.

Following the fall of czarist Russia, Morozov’s collection became part of the state-owned Museum of Western Modern Art in St. Petersburg. On the eve of World War II, the panels were sent to Siberia for safekeeping, where they remained, rolled up in storage, until 1948. In the 1950s, restorers begun to work on Mediterranean, but because of its large dimensions, the work has rarely been on view. In the Beyond the Easel exhibition, these enormous and luminous panels are being shown for the first time outside the State Hermitage Museum.

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