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Kunsthaus Zürich

Pierre Bonnard

Restoration of the four-part work «Panneaux décoratifs – femmes au jardin»

Pierre Bonnard ‘Women in the Garden’, four parts (1st version, uncompleted), each 154 x 45 cm, charcoal, chalk, pencil and tempera on paper, mounted on canvas. 1890/91, Kunsthaus Zürich, © 2014 ProLitteris, Zurich
Pierre Bonnard ‘Women in the Garden’, four parts (1st version, uncompleted), each 154 x 45 cm, charcoal, chalk, pencil and tempera on paper, mounted on canvas. 1890/91, Kunsthaus Zürich, © 2014 ProLitteris, Zurich

Painted by Bonnard in 1890/91, the four-part work «Women in the Garden» is the incomplete first version of a screen; the second, more complete version is now in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. The bold depiction of four female figures of different sizes was a new departure for Bonnard in the style of the Nabis. The panels were originally conceived as a four-part screen but were separated by Bonnard soon afterwards, as he felt that the individual parts worked better as free-standing paintings.

Born in Fontenay-aux-Roses near Paris in 1867, Pierre Bonnard was one of the leading figures in the group of artists known as the Nabis («prophets»), which formed in 1889 and emulated the style of Paul Gauguin and the Japanese woodcut.

Pierre Bonnard «Ensemble de quatre panneaux décoratifs» 
(2nd version), each 160 x 48 cm, tempera and distemper on paper, mounted on canvas, 1891, Musée D’Orsay, Paris, © 2014 ProLitteris, Zurich
Pierre Bonnard «Ensemble de quatre panneaux décoratifs»
(2nd version), each 160 x 48 cm, tempera and distemper on paper, mounted on canvas, 1891, Musée D’Orsay, Paris, © 2014 ProLitteris, Zurich

The «Panneaux décoratifs» were acquired by the Kunsthaus Zürich in 1984 and have been an integral part of the permanent collection ever since.

Its precarious condition necessitated extensive conservation and restoration, which was made possible in 2014 thanks to the generous support of the art insurance specialist Nationale Suisse.

Exhibition in 2015

The newly restored work will be on show from September 2014 in the exhibition ‘Monet, Gauguin, van Gogh... Japanese Inspirations’ at the Museum Folkwang in Essen. From February 2015, it will then be presented in the same exhibition at the Kunsthaus, before taking its place once again in the permanent collection.

> Restoration of the four-part work «Panneaux
décoratifs – femmes au jardin»
The restoration: reasons and objectives
Structure of the painting
Cross-section of the paint layer
Restoration work