This painting that was shown at the Salon in 1868 was done in the woods at Chailly-en-Bière during the summer of 1867 when the artist had recently met Lise Tréhot who was to be his favorite model until 1872. The painting caused a scandal, and was the subject of countless satirical cartoons. But, it also won the admiration of critics such as Emile Zola who considered it worthy of the greatest of the impressionists, and of Theodore Duret who actually purchased it.
Alfred Sisley and His Wife
This is one of Renoir’s most famous paintings. The subject is traditionally identified as the impressionist painter Alfred Sisley – great friend of Renoir who painted him and his family on several occasions – and his wife, the model Eugénie Lescouezec. But some critics have interpreted it as a genre scene without any specific reference to real persons and based on Medieval courtly themes. What is certain, however, is that it was indeed Sisley who posed for it. The German art dealer Cassirer sold it to Bernheim-Jeune in 1906 who, in turn sold it to Prince Wagram. And it was from the prince’s collection that the painting came to its current home.
In the Summer
Exhibited at the 1869 Salon, this is a portrayal of Lise Tréhot, the artist’s favorite model of his early years, and the treatment of the subject recalls some of Courbet’s naturalistic works. In the Salon catalogue Renoir called the painting a “Study” perhaps to render his summary treatment of some details such as the leaves in the background and hair more palatable to the judges. Theodore Duret, journalist and political activist, purchased the painting in 1873 and then, after several changes of hands Mathilde Kappler donated to the Berlin museum in 1907.
Pont Neuf, Paris
Typical picturesque spots in Paris were among the Impressionists’ favorite subjects. Renoir did this painting from the second story window of a cafe while his brother Edmond, who was a journalist, stopped passers-by in the street so that the artist could get some details. Durand-Ruel bought the painting in 1875 at an auction some artists held at the Hotel Drouot. He may have purchased it on behalf of Hazard since it was in his collection at the time of the 1919 sale.
Shown at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 the subject of this painting is typical of much French painting “of modern life” from Daumier on. The artist’s brother Edmond and the model Nini “Guele-de-Raie” posed for it. It immediately became one of the symbols of the “new painting” and was purchased by Père Martin, a small dealer and enthusiastic supporter of the Impressionists. After a few changes of hands it was purchased by Durand-Ruel in 1899 who sold it to Percy Moore Turnerm in 1925, and this owner then sold it to Samuel Courtauld. There are several signed copies that Renoir painted to satisfy collectors in view of the picture’s great success.
Nude in the Sunlight
The press criticized this painting, that was shown at the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876 because of the artist’s manner of rendering the flesh. “Le Figaro” said that it seemed to be “decomposing” because of its peculiar “unfinished” effect. According to Vollard, the model was a girl named Anne and she posed for Renoir on other occasions as well. Caillebotte purchased the painting in 1876, and then, as part of the “1893 bequest” it became the property of the French national collections.
Moulin de la Galette
Renoir did this large painting in the Montmartre dancehall, using many of his artist and writer friends as the models. It was shown at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877 and immediately won the public’s favor. There is a smaller version in New York (Whitney Collection), which, according to some sources is the one actually painted in loco and the big one in the studio; others maintain that it is a copy by Victor Chocquet. The painter, Caillebotte bought the painting in 1877, and used it as the background for one of his self-portraits. Under the terms of Caillebotte’s will, the painting was bequeathed to the French government in 1893.
On the Terrace
Both the date and place this painting was done are the subjects of controversy. Some maintained that it was painted in the artist’s garden in Rue Cortot in 1879, others say it was done on the terrace of Fournaise’s restaurant at Chaton in 1881. It certainly, however, belongs to the season of the dense, en plein air chromatics of the Luncheon of the Boating Party that is in Washington. The model was the actress Jeanne Darland. Durand-Ruel purchased this painting in 1881.
The Luncheon of the Boating Party
This painting has been traditionally dated in 1881, but it must be moved back to at least 1880 since it was sold to Durand-Ruel in February of the following year. It is an ambitious undertaking among the large compositions with many figures, painted “en plein air” that the artist cultivated for the entire decade. The setting is Aldolphe Fournaise’s restaurant at Chaton and the characters are artists, journalists and models, all friends of Renoir. We can recognize Aline Charigot, his future wife playing with a dog, and the painter Gustave Caillebotte straddling a chair. This painting was part of the Durand-Ruel collection until 1923 when the dealer’s children sold it to Duncan Phillips of the United States to finance the gallery’s recovery.
Renoir did this painting towards the end of 1881 during a trip to Italy – probably in Naples. It is one of his best from this period, revealing the influence of Raphael and the frescoes in Pompeii. Renoir said that he painted it during a boat excursion, and that his future wife, Aline Charigot was the model. Upon his return to France he sold the painting to Henry Vever, collector and jeweler; the inscription partially cancels the artist’s signature. Renoir painted another in June of the following year on request from the art dealer Durand-Ruel.
This painting had been dated 1885, but recently, on the basis of stylistic considerations the date has been moved up. So it was probably done during Renoir’s stay on the island of Guernsey. It is a combination of the visual impression of a group of bathers, real landscape and the mythological suggestions of female nudes. Durand-Ruel purchased the painting in 1892 and then sold it to the American collector Potter Palmer.
1884 - 1887
Presented at the International Expositions of 1887 organized by Georges Petit with the sub-title “Exemple du peinture decoratif”, this painting is the result of painstaking work as documented by a long series of preparatory drawings. The painting is based on a bas-relief by the seventeenth century sculptor, François Girardon, entitle Bain des Nymphes in the gardens of Versailles. Renoir did the painting at the time that he was moving away from the Impressionist poetics to return to studio work, and traditional models. In his quest for pictorial effects similar to the opaqueness of frescoes, he experimented with new techniques such as reducing the amount of oil used in the paints.
This is one of the few portraits proper of Aline (whom Renoir married in 1890) since she generally posed for genre scenes. Because of its affinity with Maternity in the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Florida that he painted on the occasions of birth of their first son, Pierre, it can be dated around 1886. Both were done near Essayez, Aline’s hometown. This painting remained in Renoir’s private collection until his death.
Girls at the Piano
At the end of 1881, acting on recommendations from Mallarmé and Roger Marx, the minister Henri Roujoun commissioned Renoir to do a painting for the section dedicated to living artists in the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. Renoir worked assiduously on this subject, and in fact, there are five other versions. The one that is currently in the Musée d’Orsay is the version that the French government purchased in 1892 for a sum of 4,000 francs; it was exhibited that same year in the artist’s one-man show at the Durand-Ruel gallery.
Bather with Long Hair
There is a similar version of this painting in the Barnes Foundation collection. It is one of the female nudes that Renoir described in his correspondence as “nymphs” to emphasize the mythical-timeless dimension of his manner of portraying subjects during that period. Durand-Ruel bought the painting in 1896, and then sold it to Oskar Schmitz, a collector from Dresden in 1911.
This was the period in which the female nude provided Renoir with the opportunity for seeking a balance between form and the free handling of color, concluding the period of his more adventurous technical experiments. Thus, his painting became a “museum” revisitation of the chromatic tradition which, starting with Titian, had characterized the Baroque and Rococo styles.
Son of a tailor and a worker, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges on 25 February 1841. His family moved to Paris in 1844. He was a self-taught artist and he developed his tastes through his studies of Rubens and eighteenth century French painters. In 1862, while he was attending courses at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he met Monet, Sisley and Bazille with whom he began painting “en plain air”, especially at Fontainebleau where he also met Courbet and Lise Tréhot who was his favorite model until 1872. He met Lise in 1865, then he began to work with Aline Charigot whom he married in 1890. He was admitted to the Salon in 1865 and rejected the next two years, while he earned an enormous success at the 1868 Salon with his painting of Lise with the umbrella. Between 1870 and 1872 he stopped painting and served in the Franco-Prussian War. In 1872 at Argenteuil he often painted in the company of Monet. In 1874 he participated in the first Impressionist exhibition that was held in the studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris. The great Impressionist masterpieces, such as Le Moulin de la Galette and The Luncheon of the Boating Party date from the ‘seventies. The portrait of Madame Charpentier and Her Children, exhibited at the 1879 Salon, marked a turning point in his art and a return to a traditional genre. During a trip to Italy in 1881 he was greatly impressed by the works of Raphael and the frescoes in Pompeii. He felt that his painting required greater rigor: between 1883 and 1887 his style evolved in a manner that he himself described as “sharp”, culminating in the clear outlines of the Bathers. Fame and wealth came to him in the ‘nineties (the retrospective show organized by Durand-Ruel in 1892 was a decisive factor). The first symptoms of severe rheumatic disease developed in 1898: he continued to paint by tying a brush to his hand when he was no longer able to move his fingers. He died in 1919 after having completed The Bathers, his artistic testament.The works