Renoir looked to the French masters for artistic inspiration as well as to Ingres and Raphaël, 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 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 naive 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 Rubens's work.