This work will be included in the critical catalogue of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's paintings being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute.
This work will be included in volume IV or subsequent volumes of the catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles de Renoir being prepared by Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville published by Bernheim-Jeune.
Femme nue dans un paysage was painted in 1915 and is a celebration of one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir's most favoured themes: the female nude. Here shown against a lush landscape filled with greenery and the rich blue of the sky, this is a poetic image of health, the glow of the woman's flesh adding to the sense of wellness of Renoir's subject. This is underscored by her discreet monumentality, the statuesque quality that Renoir sought to imbue in his figures from the 1880s onwards. Her body has been rendered using swirling brushstrokes that add a sensual sheen to the picture, allowing us to trace the movements that the artist himself made while creating it.
Comparison with some of Renoir's other pictures of women from this period in his life imply that the model for Femme nue dans un paysage may well have been 'Dédée', the nickname of Andrée Heuschling. Dédée arrived in Renoir's home in Cagnes in 1915, replacing his long-term model Gabrielle Renard, who had married and therefore was no longer available for sittings, although she remained on good terms with the man who immortalised her. Dédée's character, health and looks soon inspired Renoir, who is thought to have created over a hundred pictures of her, showing his incredible passion for painting during this period in his career. She was a beneficial presence in the Renoir household, bringing cheer, life and beauty. Renoir's son, the film director Jean, would recall: 'She was sixteen years old, red-haired, plump, and her skin "took the light" better than any model that Renoir had ever had in his life. She sang, slightly off-key, the popular songs of the day, told stories about her girl friends, was gay, and cast over my father the revivifying spell of her joyous youth' (J. Renoir, Renoir, My Father, London, 1962, pp. 398-99). The painter was not the only Renoir to be so inspired by her: Jean, the film director, would come to include her in a number of his films, in which she starred under the name Catherine Hessling, and would indeed marry her.
Renoir's pictorial odes to the nude during these years were defiant, in part in terms of the challenges that he was himself facing as age encroached, and in part because of events in the rest of his family and the world. For it was during 1915 that his wife would pass away; adding to his anxieties, two of his sons were wounded in action during the First World War. Like his friend and fellow artist Claude Monet, Renoir remained a defiant presence in his home, creating images of beauty and harmony such as Femme nue dans un paysage that were prayers for peace and invocations of humanity and beauty during a time of turmoil.