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Nu assis

Nu assis
signed 'Renoir' (lower left)
oil on canvas
12 5⁄8 x 13 3⁄4 in. (32.2 x 34.9 cm.)
Painted circa 1900-1902
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired from the artist, by 1919).
Private collection, Paris.
Acquired by the present owner, 2016.
A. Vollard, Tableaux, pastels et dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1918, vol. II, p. 38 (illustrated as part of a larger canvas).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, 1895-1902, Paris, 2010, vol. III, p. 420, no. 2428 (illustrated).
Post lot text
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.

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Lot Essay

Women are the most frequent subject in Renoir's painting. Renoir appreciated women for their beauty above all else—he was an unabashed sensualist. Although he portrayed modern, fashionable figures, he had a continuous interest in the female nude. By the end of his life, he was concentrating much energy and time on this subject. Indeed, as Renoir slowly turned away from scenes of the contemporary world, the men in his paintings disappeared, leaving the stage to monumental nudes, which he treated in a deepening dialogue with tradition.
From the beginning of the 1880s, Renoir traveled widely to North Africa and the Mediterranean coast and then to the great museums in Madrid, Amsterdam, Dresden and London. The impact of these explorations was reflected in the increasingly fluid technique of his work, which owes much to Titian and Peter Paul Rubens. By the early 1900s, he had consolidated these techniques and became acknowledged as one of the leading artists of his time, accepting the Légion d'Honneur in 1900. The consummate 20th century modernist critic Clement Greenberg analyzed the artist's late style: "In the last decades of his life Renoir won through to a new handling of the three-dimensional form. He achieved this in two ways: by throwing the entire emphasis of his color on warmth—his adherence to the bas-relief organization of the picture, in which solid forms were lined up on a single frontal, therefore advancing, place (as in Titian), permitted him to do this with plausibility—and by modeling throughout with white highlights and correspondingly light and translucent coppery reds and silvery grays. It is above all to this high-keyed, aerated modeling that Renoir owes the triumph of his later nudes, portraits, and figure compositions. Paradoxically, it was by dint of becoming more sculptural, after having at last tried his hand at actual sculpture, that he joined the Venetians and Rubens on the heights of painterly painting" (Art and Cultural Critical Essays, Boston, 1961, pp. 47-48).
In the present work, there is a distinct sense of voluptuous tactility, both in the nude's flesh, the drapery and in the lushness of the background, which is due to Renoir's adroit handling of tonal gradations and modeling. The pale colors accented by splashes of brighter pigments are characteristic of the best of Renoir's late work.

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