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

Nature morte aux pommes et à poire

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Nature morte aux pommes et à poire
signed 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
8 5/8 x 12 1/4 in. (22 x 31 cm.)
Painted circa 1889
Ambroise Vollard, Paris, by whom acquired from the artist before 1919.
Madame de la Chapelle, Paris.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the above on 30 March 1938.
Dr Albert & Elvira Charpentier, Paris, by whom acquired from above on 14 March 1939.
Roberto & Elena Germain-Ribon, by descent from the above.
Jacqueline Pizarro, by descent from the above.
Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, 22 June 2005, lot 110.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. Vollard, Tableaux, Pastels & Dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, vol. II, Paris, 1919, p. 138 (illustrated).
G.-P. & M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. II, 1882-1894, Paris, 2009, no. 721, p. 26 (illustrated).

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Michelle McMullan
Michelle McMullan Head of Day Sale

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.

Unlike his contemporaries Monet, Sisley and Bazille, Renoir showed little interest in still-life at the beginning of his career. From around 1880, however, it began to occupy an increasing importance in his output, underlining the 'academic' approach that influenced his art. The numerous works, often elaborate and ambitious, which he executed in this genre over the course of his career attest to his sustained interest in still-life as an end in itself. Indeed, it was in his still-life compositions that Renoir pursued some of his most searching investigations of the effects of light and colour on objects and surfaces. Renoir told his biographer, Albert André, that it was in his small scale still-lifes such as the present work that 'he put the whole of himself, that he took every risk' (A. André, Renoir, 1928, p. 49).

Light pervades Nature morte aux pommes et à poire, suffusing the scene with an atmospheric radiance. The rich red and yellow hues of the apples and pear are highlighted with luminous areas of white and green, while light plays across the tablecloth, animated with blue and pink shadows and orange stripes, which enrich its textural qualities. The present work demonstrates how Renoir increasingly sought to reconcile the tenets of Impressionism with the structure and permanence of the classical tradition. The sophisticated light effects neither dissolve the contour of the objects nor mitigate their mass. Indeed the fruit, cloth and tabletop seem to gain in substance and clarity from the light filtering across the canvas.

Discussing Renoir's pictorial dialogue with France's great genre painter Jean Siméon Chardin, Charles Sterling's statement of Renoir's achievement in still-life could well describe the present painting: 'Nurtured on the traditions of eighteenth-century French painting, Renoir...carried on the serene simplicity of Chardin. Pale shadows, light as a breath of air, faintly ripple across the perishable jewel of a ripe fruit. Renoir reconciles extreme discretion with extreme richness, and his full-bodied density is made up, it would seem, of coloured air. This is a lyrical idiom hitherto unknown in still life, even in those of Chardin. Between these objects and us there floats a luminous haze through which we distinguish them, tenderly united in a subdued shimmer of light (C. Sterling, Still Life in Painting from Antiquity to the Present Time, Paris, 1959, p. 100).

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