This is one of four panels painted to decorate the Paris apartment of Misia and Alfred Edwards. The other three panels, Travel, Play I and Study, contain similar mythological characters and animals in an imaginary landscape. The four panels were exhibited at the 1910 Autumn Salon in Paris.
In the early 1900s Bonnard began to use brighter colours than before and his compositions became more complex. This large painting (3 metres long) is more like a mural than an easel painting. Bonnard had painted stage sets in the early 1890s and this experience would have helped him create works like Pleasure where an illusion of receding space is suggested — by the frame, by the different sizes of figures, and by a distant gateway.
The girls with fluttering drapery suggest a classical frieze, while the monkeys and other animals in the curving frame refer to the fashion for fanciful Rococo ornamentation in Paris at the turn of the century. These decorative panels were created to blend with furniture of this style in Misia and Alfred’s apartment.
The Nabis, a group of artists of which Bonnard was a founding member in 1888, believed that the decorative arts were as important creatively as easel painting.