Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Property from the Collection of Frederick A. and Sharon L. Klingenstein
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

La fête à Saint-Cloud

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
La fête à Saint-Cloud
oil on canvas
19 5/8 x 24 in. (50 x 61 cm.)
Painted in 1871
Georges Rivière, Paris (by 1921).
Hélène Rivière, Paris (by descent from the above).
Edmond Renoir, Viroflay (by descent from the above, by 1955 and then by descent); sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., London, 2 December 1981, lot 8.
Private collection, United States (acquired at the above sale); sale, Christie's, New York, 12 May 1993, lot 5.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owners.
G. Rivière, Renoir et ses amis, Paris, 1921, p. 8 (illustrated; dated 1866).
G. Coquiot, Renoir, Paris, 1925, pp. 147 and 223 (dated 1866).
C. Kunstler, Renoir, peintre fou de couleur, Paris, 1941 (illustrated in color, pl. 2; dated 1866).
K.S. Champa, Studies in Early Impressionism, New Haven, 1973, p. 47 (illustrated, fig. 63).
F. Daulte, Renoir, New York, 1973, p. 75 (illustrated; titled Holiday at Saint-Cloud and dated 1866).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2007, vol. I, p. 162, no. 82 (illustrated).
Kunsthalle Tübingen, Renoir, January-May 1996, p. 98, no. 15 (illustrated in color).
London, The National Gallery of Art; Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada and Philadelphia Museum of Art, Renoir Landscapes: 1865-1883, February 2007-January 2008, pp. 119-120, no. 14 (illustrated in color, p. 121).
Sale room notice
Please note that the correct title is La fête à Saint-Cloud.

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Jessica Fertig
Jessica Fertig

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Pierre-Auguste Renoir Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

On a glorious afternoon in the Parc de Saint-Cloud, on the banks of the Seine just west of Paris, a group of elegantly clad strollers pause in the shade beneath a sprawling canopy of greenery; behind them, several figures sit at the tables of an outdoor café nestled within the trees, enjoying the convivial pleasures of a summer day. Renoir rendered this modern-day fête champêtre with an extraordinarily free, gestural touch, conveying a palpable impression of envelopment in a sun-dappled landscape and deftly capturing the mobile effects of light as the branches overhead rustle in a gentle breeze. It is difficult to imagine a painting that more effectively bears witness to one of the central tenets of Impressionism, as it would come to be called—the plein air master amid nature, rapidly transcribing his most immediate sensations, in all their totality.
Renoir first achieved this unprecedented spontaneity of vision working alongside Monet at La Grenouillère, a boating and bathing resort near Saint-Cloud, in 1869. The artists’ endeavors were interrupted the following year when France declared war on Prussia; Renoir was mobilized into a cavalry division, while Monet fled to London. Dauberville, following Götz Adriani, has dated the present painting to summer 1871, as the nation began to re-build from the devastating conflict and Renoir resumed the experiments that he had initially undertaken two years earlier. “This park landscape, illuminated by patches of sunlight and rendered in predominantly silvery blues, grays and greens,” Adriani has written, “captures the mood of a moment with a light, sketch-like style of painting and an entirely new palette of luminous colors” (exh. cat., op. cit., 1996, p. 98).
Colin Bailey, however, has proposed that Renoir painted Dans le parc de Saint-Cloud in 1873, when the revolutionary formal means of the New Painting were still further advanced. “The dappled lighting, impastoed figures, and experimental touch,” he noted, “are more characteristic of landscapes painted in the months before Renoir would join forces with Monet again” (exh. cat., op. cit., 2007, p. 120). The two painters spent the summer of 1873 at Argenteuil, working side-by-side and consolidating plans for a progressive association of artists who would mount their own independent exhibitions, free of the entrenched Salon system. The epoch-making First Impressionist Exhibition, the touchstone for all such future modernist efforts, took place the following spring.
An early owner of the present painting was the art critic Georges Rivière, a lifelong friend of Renoir and a leading advocate of Impressionism during the 1870s. Rivière included the work in his book Renoir et ses amis (1921), the earliest biography of the artist and a testament to the enduring strength of their friendship. He bequeathed the canvas to his elder daughter Hélène, the wife of Renoir’s nephew Edmond.

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