Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Les hauteurs de Trouville

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Les hauteurs de Trouville
signed 'Renoir' (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 x 25 in. (54.6 x 65.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1885
G. Urion, Paris: sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 30-31 May 1927, lot 89.
Galerie Druet, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Mme. Alfred Savoir, Paris (1937).
Jean-Claude Savoir, Coppet, Switzerland.
Wildenstein & Co., Inc., New York.
Private collection (acquired from the above, 1973); sale, Christie's, New York, 6 May 1998, lot 184.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
G. Néret, Renoir, 60 chefs-d'oeuvre, Fribourg, 1985, pl. 40 (illustrated in color).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir, catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles 1882-1894, Paris, 2009, vol. II, p. 103, no. 853 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux, pastels et dessins par Renoir, November-December 1920, no. 58.
Paris, Galerie Druet, Renoir, February 1923, no. 73.
Venice, XXI Biennale Internationale d'Arte, 1938, p. 246, no. 14.
Mexico City, Instituto Frances de America Latino, Cien años de pintura francesca, June-July 1953, no. 9.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Paintings from Private Collections, July-September 1959, no. 97.
Geneva, Musée de l'Athénée, De l'Impressionnisme à l'école de Paris, July-September 1960, no. 71.
Tokyo, Matsuzukaya, Masterpieces of European Arts, January 1974 (illustrated in color).
Cape Town, South African National Gallery, French Paintings of the Turn of the Century (Franse Skilderkuns Rondom 1900), Summer 1974, no. 17.
Sale room notice
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute, as established from the archives of François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.

Please note the first line of the provenance is incorrect in the printed catalogue.

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Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute, as established from the archives of François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.

Following his trip to Italy in 1881, Renoir became increasingly preoccupied with the classical traditions of the paysage composé. He and his colleagues had come to question the spontaneity and informality of Impressionist plein-air techniques, and they began to consider and experiment with alternative, more systematic approaches. John House has noted that "Renoir was deliberately moving away from any suggestion of the fleeting or the contingent, away from the Impressionist preoccupation with the captured instant" (in Renoir, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, p. 242).

During the summer of 1885, Renoir vacationed with his companion Aline Charigot and their son Pierre at La Roche-Guyon, a village on the Seine between Paris and Rouen. Renoir invited Paul Cézanne, his wife and son to join them, and the two families spent four weeks together there from June 15 to July 11. This invitation was in part an expression of Renoir's gratitude for the care that Cézanne and his mother had extended to him when he fell ill with pneumonia while visiting them in L'Estaque in late January 1882 on his return from Italy, as well as Cézanne's hospitality the following year when Renoir visited him following a painting trip to the Riviera with Monet. Renoir and Cézanne welcomed this opportunity in La Roche-Guyon to again work side-by-side, and to discuss the issues of technique that had been on their minds.

"Though painting directly from nature, like the Impressionists," as Meyer Schapiro has pointed out, "Cézanne thought often of the more formal art he admired in the Louvre. He wished to create works of a noble harmony like those of the old masters... [with] completeness and order...that is, to find the forms of the painting in the landscape before him and to render the whole in a more natural coloring based on direct perception of tones and light" (in Cézanne, New York, 1952, p. 12). Having absorbed and expanded on the lessons he had drawn from working with Pissarro for more than a decade, Cézanne had by the mid-1880s arrived at a controlled, constructivist brushstroke in his landscape painting, a disciplined method that was as controversial as it was intriguing to his fellow painters. Renoir was interested in Cézanne's structured method, and began to adapt elements of it to his own painting--the results are visible in various canvases that Renoir painted that summer and fall.

Renoir visited his patron Paul Bérard and his family in Wargemont later that summer, and painted at various sites along the Normandy coast; it was possibly during this time that he made the present view of Trouville from the heights above this popular resort town. The steeple at lower right is well-known from Monet's views of the promenade, and to the left appear the various multi-story hotels that catered to vacationing Parisians. Renoir's technique is a synthesis of Cézanne's ideas and his own more casual and painterly approach to outdoor painting. He painted the windswept brush and trees with short, staccato marks, while rendering the hazy atmosphere of the sea, the distant bluffs and sky in more blended strokes. Discussing another painting of this period, House has noted that in "The strokes themselves... are quite unlike Cézanne's--less crisp, and tending to blend together. In Cézanne's paintings such strokes belong to the picture's two-dimensional fabric; their effect is flat, too, in parts of Renoir's picture... but elsewhere they act more illusionistically, suggesting the appearance of forms in space... Renoir was reluctant to subordinate the natural elements in a scene to an overriding surface pattern" (ibid., p. 247).

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