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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

La route ensoleillée

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
La route ensoleillée
signed 'Renoir' (lower left)
oil on canvas
13 5/8 x 17¾ in. (34.6 x 45 cm.)
Painted circa 1900
Dalzell-Hatfield Galleries, Los Angeles & New York.
Mrs Edna M. Welsh, Philadelphia.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, a bequest from the above in 1982; sale, Christie's, New York, 15 November 1983, lot 53.
A. Vollard, Tableaux, Pastels & Dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, vol. I, Paris, 1918, no. 135 (illustrated p. 34).
Palermo, Palazzo dei Normanni, Renoir e la luce dell'impressionismo, June - July 2002 (illustrated in colour p. 57); this exhibition later travelled to Milan, Fondazione Antonio Mazzotta, Rome, Palazzo Montecitorio and Trieste, Museo del Canal Grande.
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Lot Essay

Pierre-Auguste Renoir had been dogged by poor sales and hard criticism of his work throughout the later part of the 1880s. He began to finally see financial success during the 1890s, when he suddenly found his paintings commanding prices in excess of the other Impressionists. Renoir's letters to his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel show him preoccupied with keeping his prices high. His popularity was enhanced by the five international exhibitions of his work that took place in Paris, Berlin, Glasgow and New York alone, and his increasing fame reached a new peak when he was named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour that year.

Because of poor health, Renoir chose to spend the winter of 1900 in Magagnosc near Grasse in the South of France. There he was visited by friends, among them Louis Valtat, Georges d'Espagnat and Odilon Redon. While he did not abandon his lucrative portrait commissions, his favourite subjects were the daily activities of village life and the surrounding Mediterranean landscape. 'During the first decade of the twentieth-century, Renoir's style continued to develop as it had during the previous decade in an integration of classicism and Impressionism. Tangible forms are surrounded by a warm atmosphere created by expressive brushstrokes of vibrant colour and sparkling light. Classical feelings of weightiness and universality are blended with Impressionist feelings of movement and joyfulness' (B.E. White, Renoir, His Life, Art and Letters, New York, 1984, p. 217). John House observes that Renoir's paintings from this time 'reflected a more general change in his art, towards the Classicism of the Mediterranean and, more particularly, towards ideas then associated with the revival of Provençal culture' (J. House, exh. cat., Renoir, London, 1985, p. 268).

La route ensoleillée is characteristic of Renoir's work from this period. The prominent use of red, in combination with the usual yellow, green, blue and white tones of landscape painting, and the use of staccato brushwork, underscore Renoir's innovative technique at this late stage in his career. As Renoir's friend Téodor de Wyzewa observed: '[his] is an art whose main effect is not to arouse in us the illusion of a perfectly reproduced reality, but to release, for us, an image of this reality whose lines have greater sweetness, whose shades are at one lighter and more vivid' (quoted in N.Wadley, Renoir, A Retrospective, New York, 1987, pp. 224 and 233).

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