Thursday 24 May 2012

Renoir, Impressionism and Full-Length Painting

Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the East Room, the Frick Collection.


The Umbrellas, 1881-85

A bustling Paris street in the rain. The composition of the painting does not focus on the centre of the picture - it even cuts off figures at either edge like a photographic snapshot - an unconventional  arrangement that several of the impressionists experimented with.

Dance at Bougival, 1883

An ardent man wearing a straw hat and workman blue wirls a young woman in red bonnet and a swirl of white petticoat. The woman is Suzanne Valadon, model and artist. The floor is littered with cigarette butts, burnt matches, a fallen posy - all this detritus makes a sexy picture sexier.

Dance in the City, 1883

Suzanne Valadon again. Her partner was modelled on Paul Lhote, a journalist.

Dance in the Country, 1883

This was painted as a companion to Dancing in the City.

La Parisienne, 1874

This picture shocked Paris when it was first unveiled. It is a picture without a context, without exterior definitions of who this woman is - she is delineated purely by her face and clothes. She is disconnected from the contexts in which women had always been portrayed and has walked into abstract space.

Renoir called this picture La Parisienne implying that this woman is typical, that she represents a new kind of urban woman. She is wearing vibrant blue, very remote from the greys and blacks of respectability. Her hair is loose, she looks at us confidently, a woman going out into the world. Renoir may have been influenced by Berthe Morisot here, who also painted women in the free spaces of the city.

(We were not allowed to photograph, so with the exception of the first one, the rest have been downloaded).

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