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Property from a New York Collector

La Seine à Argenteuil

La Seine à Argenteuil
signed and dated 'Renoir 88' (lower left)
oil on canvas
21 5/8 x 25 7/8 in. (54.8 x 65.7 cm.)
Painted in 1888
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 30 January 1892).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, March 1892).
Sam Salz, New York (acquired from the above, 11 November 1943).
Carroll Carstairs Gallery, New York.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above, 25 September 1945).
Frank and Helen Altschul, New York (acquired from the above, December 1945, until at least 1974).
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London.
Pace Gallery, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, June 1987.
E. Fezzi, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Renoir: Période impressioniste, 1869-1883, Paris, 1985, p. 114, no. 601 (illustrated).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, 1882-1894, Paris, 2009, vol. II, p. 90, no. 834 (illustrated).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Pierre Auguste Renoir, November-December 1908, no. 24.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, February-March 1912, no. 5.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir, December 1915, no. 13.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, January 1917, no. 17.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, February 1920, no. 22.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Marine Subjects by French Artists, January 1925, no. 14.
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paysage par Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Renoir & Sisley, January 1933, no. 30.
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Renoir, 1933, p. 38, no. 86.
New York, Carroll Carstairs Gallery, Six Impressionists, April-May 1945, no. 15.
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Loan Exhibition: Renoir, April-May 1958, p. 64, no. 50 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., Renoir: The Gentle Rebel, October-November 1974, no. 45 (illustrated).
Further details
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.

Brought to you by

Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art, New York

Lot Essay

Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his family spent part of the summer of 1888 in Petit Gennevilliers on the banks of the Seine, across the river from the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil. Gustave Caillebotte owned a comfortable home in Petit Gennevilliers with space enough for his guests to enjoy the many outdoor activities that filled this stretch of the Seine. For Renoir, it was the ideal setting to paint and to indulge his love of boating, and Caillebotte, too, was a devoted sailor. Under the bright sun, the two artists spent many an afternoon floating leisurely along the river and painting.
The present work, La Seine à Argenteuil, is one of a group of five celebrated oils of Argenteuil, all of which were painted during Renoir’s stay in the summer of 1888. The dark-hulled boat visible in the present work is Mouquette, owned by Caillebotte. While the dynamic brushwork and atmospheric colors recall Renoir’s high impressionist works of the mid-1870s, the vivid palette—in particular the dark, rich grove of trees—is suggestive of Southern France, perhaps inspired by his time spent painting alongside Paul Cezanne in Aix-en-Provence earlier that year. La Seine à Argenteuil is suffused with late afternoon heat, the stillness of a warm afternoon. Sun-drenched, verdant trees frame the river. Light dapples the calm waters, and loose daubs of blue and white evoke a slow-moving current. Glints of the chestnut sailboats are visible in the water, though these reflections are mere approximations, similar to those seen in Renoir’s earlier canvases. “I have taken up again, never to abandon it, my old style, soft and light of touch,” he said. “It’s nothing new, but rather a follow-up to the paintings of the eighteenth century. This is to give you some idea of my new and final manner of painting (like Fragonard, but not so good). Those fellows who give the impression of not painting nature knew more about it than we do” (quoted in J. House and M. Lucy, Renoir in the Barnes Foundation, New Haven, 2012, p. 121).
By omitting any visual reference to the mechanisms of modern life, La Seine à Argenteuil evokes a riverside arcadia. Reality was more complex, and by this time, Argenteuil and Petit Gennevilliers were home to thriving industrial activity and had become, over the second half of the 19th century, an attractive destination for Parisian day-trippers. Yet even as France’s terrain underwent dramatic changes during this period, landscape, in its most pure guise, remained an important genre for Renoir. Though known principally for his figurative works—in part owing to his decision to only present these compositions at the annual Salon exhibitions—for Renoir, landscape offered a site for innovation and experimentation: these scenes allowed him to play more freely with color, line, and form. Despite the impression of utter spontaneity that the present work conveys, La Seine à Argenteuil is subtly, albeit methodically, arranged, and a sense of order emanates from the very center of the canvas, encouraged by the natural rhythms of the Seine. Renoir seems to understand the impossibility of besting nature: as he later reflected, “In the open air, one feels encouraged to put on the canvas tones that one couldn’t imagine in the subdued light of the studio” (quoted in ibid., p. 217).

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