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DescriptionPIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919)
Trois personnages dans un paysage
Oil on canvas
8 x 11 inches (20.3 x 27.9 cm)
Signed lower right: Renoir
Sotheby's, New York, Impressionist & Modern Art, November 3, 2005, lot 143;
Park West Gallery, Southfield, Michigan;
Private Collection, Colorado, July 2006.
This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute from the François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard, and Wildenstein archives.
A leader in the French Impressionist movement, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is best known for his vibrant, light-filled canvases depicting scenes of modern leisure in France. Trois personnages dans un paysage features the sweeping brushstrokes and saturated colors characteristic of the artist's landscape sketches. Depicting the charming subject of children in a verdant forested landscape, this work epitomizes Renoir's oeuvre, as well as French Impressionism at large.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, France, into a working-class family. As a child he worked in a porcelain factory, where his talents in drawing led him to be chosen to paint designs on fine china. In 1862, he began his artistic studies under Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille, and Claude Monet. Renoir began exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon in 1864, though it was not until six of his paintings were exhibited in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 that his work truly garnered the attention of the Paris art world. That year, in reaction to the academic hegemony of the Salon jury, a group of thirty artists including Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Berthe Morisot, and Edgar Degas organized an exhibition of their works separate from the Salon. Dubbed by a critic "The Exhibition of the Impressionists" as a play on a title of one of Monet's paintings, the exhibition received a great deal of critical attention. Thereafter, Renoir became one of the premier figures in the Impressionist movement, his uniquely effervescent and colorful scenes achieving great acclaim worldwide.
Around 1892, Renoir, then living in Montmarte, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and was advised by his doctors to relocate to a better climate in the South of France. The artist eventually settled in the protected resort of Cagnes-sur-Mer in 1907. Cagnes had been kept preserved from the urban modernization that had transformed other towns and remained a pleasantly rural place. The artist purchased a large estate in 1907, "Les Collettes," where he had painted in the past, beginning a new chapter in his artistic life. It was on this property that the artist created an idyllic garden, which inspired the settings of many of his paintings. During this period Renoir chose local residents as his models, as well as members of his family. His youngest son, Claude, appeared in many works of the period, as did Gabrielle, his children's governess. Renoir would either travel by chauffeur out to the surrounding areas to paint his models, or he would have them pose on the grounds of his property, while painting them from inside the glass walls of his studio.
Characteristic of this period in the artist's career are a softness of form and dissolving outlines, his landscape elements taking on a rounded appearance, partly due to the arthritis in his hands. However, Renoir's artistic abilities and popularity did not decline during this period. In fact, among the greatest admirers of Renoir's late period paintings was his fellow artist Pierre Matisse, who stated in 1923 about his friend, "He suffered for twenty years from the worst form of rheumatism. ... [And still he did] all his best work! ...as his body dwindled, the soul in him seemed to grow stronger continually and to express itself with more radiant ease." (F. Harris, "Henri Matisse and Renoir, Master Painters," Contemporary Portraits: Fourth Series, New York, 1923.)
The present work, Trois personnages dans un paysage, bears characteristics of his works of this period, with an artful massing of cottony forms and a balance of warm and cool coloration. As stated by the Cubist artist André Lhote in 1920, "Renoir's beautifully smooth curves are not spread out in measurable depth, but roll on top of one another, balanced and superimposed like luminous globes." (A. Lhote, "Renoir," Nouvelle Revue francaise 111, no. 77 [February 1920], p. 308.) In Trois personnages dans un paysage, the insulated, picturesque world in which the artist lived appears to be captured in this intimate sketch, depicting brightly colored figures in a vibrant green landscape, highlighted with golden tones.
Condition report available upon request.
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