EXHIBITION

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Chapter I
The Road to Impressionism
Two spectacular paintings epitomizing Renoir’s early exploration of Impressionism welcome visitors to the exhibition’s first chapter. Following a stint as a porcelain painter, the young Auguste studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and a private studio, becoming friends with Monet, Sisley, and other emerging artists who helped catalyze his interest in new approaches to painting. Boy with a Cat reveals a Renoir influenced by the tastes of the more experienced Courbet and Manet, who abandoned historical and mythological subjects in favor of honest depictions of everyday life. Study: Torso, Sunlight Effect, which came five years later, encapsulates the Impressionist aesthetic with its intertwining of outdoor sunlight, bold brushstrokes, and colorful shadows.
The Boy with the Cat

Boy with a Cat

1868 Oil on canvas 123.5 x 66 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt /distributed by AMF

Study; Torso, Sunlight Effect

Study: Torso, Sunlight Effect

c. 1876 Oil on canvas 81 x 65 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt /distributed by AMF

Chapter II
“I Am a Figure Painter”—Creating Portraits
Renoir considered himself "a figure painter" from early on in his career. His initial subjects included patrons and close friends, but it was in his portraits of women that his talents really shone. He worked with a diverse array of female models, ranging from young laborers in Paris’ Montmartre district to prominent socialites. His flair for exquisite portraits earned effusive praise from novelist Marcel Proust, who wrote, “And, lo and behold, the world around us (which was not created once and for all, but is created afresh as often as an original artist is born) appears to us entirely different from the old world, but perfectly clear. Women pass in the street, different from those we formerly saw, because they are Renoirs, those Renoirs we persistently refused to see as women.” 
Claude Monet

Claude Monet

1875 Oil on canvas 84 x 60.5 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi /
distributed by AMF

The Reader

The Reader

1874-1876 Oil on canvas 46.5 x 38.5 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski /
distributed by AMF

Chapter III
The Métier of a Landscape Painter
Throughout his career, Renoir devoted much of his energy to landscape painting—in fact, this genre accounted for a quarter of the oil paintings he produced in the 1870s. In the following decade, the artist’s travels inspired works featuring new locations. Although he would finish out the details in the studio, Renoir believed that landscape painting was meant to be an outdoor undertaking—and not an easy one. He once lamented, “...outdoors you use colors you would never think of in the studio’s dimmer light. Landscape painting is a thankless job...The weather keeps changing, so you can finish only one painting out of ten.” Still, despite the ordeals involved, Renoir never gave up in his “struggle with nature.”
The English Pear Tree

The English Pear Tree

c. 1873 Oil on canvas 66.5 x 81.5 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF

Road Rising into Deep Grass

Road Rising into Deep Grass

c. 1875 Oil on canvas 60 x 74 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF

Chapter IV
The Painter of Modern Life
French poet Charles Baudelaire, writing in his celebrated 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life,” argued that painters should paint the present, not the past, and extolled the ability to nimbly capture on canvas that which was modern, meaning “the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent.” The modern visions depicted by Renoir were all quintessential scenes of 19th century Paris—dance halls, taverns, cafés, and suburban boating, to name a few, and these paintings were described by novelist Émile Zola as the “happy pursuit of things modern.”
 This chapter begins with portrayals of gardens in Montmartre and people relaxing along the Seine outside Paris, leading up to the masterpiece that best exemplifies Renoir’s fascination with contemporary life, the renowned Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette. Today, 140 years after it was put to canvas, this vibrant work continues to wonderfully convey the revelry of 19th century Parisians dancing and relaxing at an open-air dance hall. To help visitors better understand this painting, it will be presented along with various works in similar motifs by contemporary artists, as well as a movie produced by Auguste’s second son and filmmaker, Jean Renoir. Finally, the chapter closes with two other grand paintings that further attest to the artist’s perpetual endearment with dances.
1
“The Happy Pursuit of Things Modern”
The Swing

The Swing

1876 Oil on canvas 92 x 73 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF

Alphonsine Fournaise

Alphonsine Fournaise

1879 Oil on canvas 73.5 x 93 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

2
A Ball at Montmartre’s Le Moulin de la Galette

What was Le Moulin de la Galette?

In 1855, a dance hall was opened at the base of two defunct windmills atop the hill Montmartre in northern Paris. The hall’s name derived from these windmills (moulins) and the popular flat round cakes (galettes) made from flour and milk. On Sundays, a ball would be held in the hall’s garden from three in the afternoon until midnight. According to son Jean’s memoir Renoir, My Father, Renoir personally hosted a ball at Le Moulin de la Galette to raise money to build a day nursery after seeing local children left unattended in the daytime by their working mothers.

Henri Rivière
Henri Rivière Le Moulin de la Galette
1885-1895 Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF
地図
Dance at le Moulin de la Galette

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette

1876 Oil on canvas 131.5 x 176.5cm Musée d'Orsay, Paris © Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF

Here we see young men and women merrily dance and chat at a Montmartre dance garden in a single snapshot that superbly captures the joy of people at leisure, their resplendent attire, and the light that gently envelops them. The combination of everyday life with nuanced brushstrokes that sublimely recreate sunbeams playfully streaming through leaves make this painting one of the greatest masterpieces of Impressionism. Unsurprisingly, it electrified the Parisian art scene when it was presented at the Third Impressionist Exhibition in 1877, along with The Swing.

Models include local girls and artist friends

The girl sitting on a bench in the center is Estelle, a girl who worked for a Montmartre tailor, and the one leaning over her is her older sister, Jeanne, who also served as a model for The Swing (chapt. 4-1). And, the model for The Reader (chapt. 2), Margot, is dancing in a pink dress, to the left. Her partner and the young men surrounding the table in the foreground were friends with Renoir. The young man wearing a straw boater at the far right is Georges Rivière, a critic who championed Impressionism and lavished praise upon this painting, declaring, “It is a page of history, a monument of Parisian life portrayed with rigorous accuracy. No one before Renoir had conceived of capturing an aspect of daily life on such a large canvas.”

The Garden in the Rue Cortot, Montmartre 1904
©Bridgeman Images/PPS通信社
3
Dancing
Country Dance

Dance in the Country

1883 Oil on canvas 180.3 x 90 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

City Dance

Dance in the City

1883 Oil on canvas 179.7 x 89.1 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

Chapter V
“A Workman-Painter”—Renoir’s Drawings
The Impressionists overturned traditional methods and hierarchies by injecting an aesthetic of rapidity and immediacy into painting. Renoir, however, also zealously created drawings to record his impressions, plan out compositions, and test new ideas. Having spent part of his youth developing his brushwork as a porcelain painter, he continued to quietly hone his skills after turning to painting on canvas. Once, while dining with some literary artists, Renoir told his companions, "after all, I work with my hands, and that makes me a workingman―a workman-painter"
Seated Female Nude or The Grooming

Seated Female Nude or The Toilette

c. 1890 Black pencil, white chalk, sanguine, stump on cardboard
62 x 51 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée du Louvre, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Martine Beck-Coppola

Paint Box and Palette

Paint Box and Palette

37 x 44 x 8 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Gérard Blot / distributed by AMF

Chapter VI
Children
Renoir’s paintings of children can be divided into two groups—commissioned works like the portrait Julie Manet, and spontaneously created depictions of his sons, Pierre, Jean, and Claude. As the three boys grew, they frequently found themselves the subject of their father’s loving brushstrokes. Jean, as an adult, recalled how having a family was an integral part of Auguste’s artistry: "As he eagerly sketched his son, in order to remain true to himself he concentrated on rendering the velvety flesh of the child, and through this very submission, Renoir began to rebuild his inner world."
Julie Manet or the Child with a Cat

Julie Manet or Child with a Cat

1887 Oil on canvas  65.5 x 53.5 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

The Clown (Portrait of Coco)

The Clown (Portrait of Coco)

1909 Oil on canvas 120 x 77 cm
Paris, musée de l'Orangerie, collection Jean Walter et Paul Guillaume
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l'Orangerie) / Franck Raux / distributed by AMF

Chapter VII
“Beautiful Like a Painting of Flowers”
Renoir, upon seeing a battle painting by Delacroix, is said to have extolled it as being “beautiful like a painting of flowers,” revealing how he considered floral paintings to be a measure of beauty. At the same time, they were something Renoir could create to feed the art market’s wants, bestow upon friends as gifts, and experiment with new techniques. He once quipped, “Painting flowers gives my mind a rest. I don’t feel the tension I feel when I have a model in front of me. When painting flowers, I can boldly experiment with colors, trying out all sorts of hues without worrying about wasting a canvas. And, then I can apply the experience gained from such trial and error to other paintings.”
Bouquet in a Loggia

Bouquet in a Loggia

c. 1880 Oil on canvas 40 x 51 cm
Paris, musée de l'Orangerie, collection Jean Walter et Paul Guillaume
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l'Orangerie) / Franck Raux / distributed by AMF

Chapter VIII
Around Girls at the Piano
Ever since he was a church choir singer in his boyhood, Renoir had a passion for music that included frequent contact with musicians and music critics. One of his paintings embodying this passion, Girls at the Piano, in 1892 became the first Impressionist work to be purchased by the Musée du Luxembourg, then a museum of contemporary art. This success was aided by the influence of two of his friends, poet Stéphane Mallarmé and critic Roger Marx. Renoir produced six versions for the project, one of which was selected by the Director of Fine Arts for the museum’s collections. Today, this painting is held by the Musée d'Orsay and is the one on display at this exhibition. Renoir’s works of the era when he painted these two bourgeois girls were marked by idealized compositions and harmonized colors.
Young Girls at the Piano

Girls at the Piano

1892 Oil on canvas 116 x 90 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

Yvonne and Christine Lerolle at the piano

Yvonne and Christine Lerolle at the Piano

c. 1897-1898 Oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm
Paris, musée de l'Orangerie, collection Jean Walter et Paul Guillaume
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l'Orangerie) / Franck Raux / distributed by AMF

Chapter IX
Intimacy and Portraits
Throughout his career, Renoir was a zealous portrait artist who would work on commissioned projects and also find models from among his many acquaintances. The figure paintings and portraits of his later years were infused with soft forms and elaborate hues. According to Ambroise Vollard, an art dealer and acquaintance of Renoir’s, the only thing that the artist expected of his servant girls was that they had “a complexion that fully captured the sunlight.” When his wife Aline was pregnant with Jean, they had her young cousin Gabrielle help them out at home. For the next twenty years, Gabrielle also served as a cherished model for Renoir, appearing in nearly 200 of his later works. The palpable, caressing brushstrokes of those paintings evoke a warm intimacy and convey the joy Renoir felt as he rendered the tones of flesh and texture of clothing on the canvas.
Gabrielle with a Rose

Gabrielle with a Rose

1911 Oil on canvas 55.5 x 47 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© Musée d'Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt / distributed by AMF

Chapter X
The Nude—“One of the Indispensable Forms of Art”
Renoir painted a considerable number of nudes during the 1860s, the first decade of his career as an oil painter, but did not give much attention to this subject over the ensuing ten years. In the 1880s, however, he returned to what he called “one of the indispensable forms of art.” His depictions of nude women rivaled those of Old Masters such as Raphael, Titian, and Rubens, but at the same time abandoned mythology in favor of earthy settings. The inspiration for those backgrounds was Cagnes-sur-Mer in southern France, where Renoir purchashed a large estate in 1907. The painter’s years in this arcadian environment were not without tribulations—worsening arthritis, the injuries of his sons in World War I, and the death of his wife Aline—yet Renoir continued to boldly pursue nude painting, declaring, “I cannot die until I have done my best.”
Reclining Nude (Gabrielle)

Reclining Nude (Gabrielle)

c. 1906 Oil on canvas 67 x 160 cm
Paris, musée de l'Orangerie, collection Jean Walter et Paul Guillaume
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée de l'Orangerie) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

Large Nude or Nude on Cushions

Large Nude or Nude on Cushions

1907 Oil on canvas 70 x 155 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

The Water or The Large Crouching Washerwoman

Pierre Auguste Renoir et Richard Guino(1890-1973)

The Water or The Large Crouching Washerwoman

1917? Bronze, casted by Alexis Rudier
123 x 69 x 135 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Adrien Didierjean / distributed by AMF

The Bathers

The Bathers

1918-1919 Oil on canvas 110 x 160 cm
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski / distributed by AMF

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