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La prairie

La prairie
signed 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
12 ¾ x 18 1/8 in. (32.4 x 46 cm.)
Painted circa 1880
Jules Feder, Paris.
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 25 June 1892.
Arthur Tooth & Sons, London, by whom acquired from the above in 1940.
The Hon. Mrs. Audrey Pleydell-Bouverie, by whom acquired from the above, by 1942, and thence by descent to the present owners.
C. Hussey, 'Julians, Hertfordshire - II', in Country Life, 27 June 1947, p. 1212.
E. Fezzi, L'Opera completa di Renoir nel periodo impressionista: 1869-1883, Milan, 1972, no. 114, p. 94 (illustrated).
G.-P. & M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. I, 1858-1881, Paris, 2007, no. 69, p. 153 (illustrated).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, February 1914, no. 18 (dated '1885').
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Small Paintings by Renoir, December 1927, no. 22.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, La Flèche D´Or, November - December 1937, no. 10.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Summer Exhibition, August - September 1938, no. 3.
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, French Paintings, December 1938, no. 2.
London, National Gallery, Nineteenth Century French Paintings, 1942, no. 78. p. 9 (dated '1878').
London, Arthur Tooth & Sons, Anthology: Loan Exhibition of French Pictures from Private Collections, June 1949, no. 5 (dated '1878').
London, Tate Gallery, The Pleydell-Bouverie Collection of Impressionist and Other Paintings, January - April 1954, no. 32, p. 11 (dated '1878').
Post lot text
This work will be included in the forthcoming Renoir Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

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Lot Essay

During the first decades of his career, Pierre-Auguste Renoir experimented broadly with landscape painting. On the one hand, this genre freed him from the concern of representing the human figure, while, on the other hand, it enabled him to engage in a dialogue with Corot and the painters of the Barbizon school, whom he studied while at Paris’ École des Beaux-Arts. In his landscapes, of which La prairie is a prime example, Renoir attained some of his most audacious results experimenting with light and colour.
In the present work, this freedom of expression resulted in bold colour combinations, counterbalancing the meadow’s bright shades of green with the contrasting blues of the stream. To evoke the stream’s water, he applied horizontal strokes, in contrast with the vertical ones used for the vegetation growing at its edges, whereas the sky is depicted with a skilfull blending of blue, pink and white pigments. Renoir’s interest was also rooted in the portrayal of optical effects. In order to render the loss of focus of the objects in the distance, the artist has painted with greater detail the elements of the fore and middle-ground, such as the vegetation and the trees, while the rest of the painting has a blurred quality, achieved using his masterful brushwork.

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