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

La Baigneuse

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
La Baigneuse
signed 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 12 ¾ in. (41 x 32.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1898-1900
(possibly) Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
Charles Montag, Winterthur.
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above, June 1918); sale, Christie's, New York, 4 November 2003, lot 24.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Vollard, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Tableaux, pastels et dessins, Paris, 1918, vol. II, p. 58 (illustrated).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2010, vol. III, p. 441, no. 2456 (illustrated).

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

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

Renoir looked to the French masters for artistic inspiration as well as to Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (Raphael), whose paintings he had admired during his tour of Italy in 1881. The artist was not only motivated by his ambition to rival the Old Masters and establish his place in the history of art, but also by his hope of creating a commercially viable alternative to the highly popular paintings of nudes by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
"One result of Renoir's trip to Italy was a renewed interest in the painting of the nude, which he had virtually abandoned in the previous decade. Renoir's woman comes from a primitive dreamland; she is an artless, wild creature, blooming in perfumed scrub... She is luxuriant, firm, healthy and naïve woman with a powerful body...she is a gentle being, like the women of Tahiti, born in a tropical climate where vice is known as shame, and where entire ingenuousness is a guarantee against all indecency. One cannot but be astonished at this mixture of 'Japonism,' savagism and eighteenth century taste" (C. Mauclair, Impressionists, London, 1903, pp. 16-18).
The form of the model is suggested by soft movements of delicate variations of color, sometimes lighter, sometimes warmer; the open areas of the body are constantly enlivened by the "myriad of tiny tints" which Renoir sought to "make the flesh on my canvas live and quiver." The fullness of form is achieved by the thinnest glazes of paint, a technique he had so admired in Peter Paul Rubens's work.

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