Pablo Picasso “detested” Pierre Bonnard, says Guy Cogeval, president of Paris’s Musée d’Orsay. It’s easy to see why. In the early 20th century, Picasso and members of experimental groups such as the cubists and the futurists were finding shocking new ways to render the world. They tended to view a decorative-minded painter like Bonnard as a lightweight.
“Pierre Bonnard: Painting Arcadia” runs at the Orsay from Tuesday through July 19, then moves to Madrid’s Fundación Mapfre before the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco install the show in that city’s Legion of Honor in February 2016. At the Orsay, the exhibition contains 147 works, including his purely decorative commissions and lesser known photographs. Mr. Cogeval and the Orsay’s Isabelle Cahn curated the show.
‘The Box’ from 1908 is a portrait of members of the Bernheim family. Alexandre Bernheim and his two sons, Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune, were important art dealers in Paris, known for representing the Impressionists as well as Nabi artists like Bonnard. The family commissioned this Bonnard painting, which shows the two Bernheim-Jeune brothers and their wives in their box at the Paris Opera. MUSÉE D’ORSAY/RMN-GP/PATRICE SCHMIDT/ADAGP, PARIS 2015