This painting will be included in the forthcoming Renoir catalogue raisonné from Francoi Daulte being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute.
Renoir had been greatly impressed by his trips abroad in 1882. In his choice of Italy and Algeria he intentionally followed the footsteps of two of the older generation of artists whom he admired the most, Delacroix and Ingres. While Italy afforded him the opportunity to study firsthand classical works of art, he was drawn to North Africa by a desire to find new and different subjects for his work. Encouraged by Durand-Ruel's recent purchase of a number of his paintings, he hoped to further his commercial favor with critics and collectors.
The brilliant light and exotic terrain of Algeria tantalized Renoir and in March of 1882 he returned for two additional months to paint and sketch. He wrote, "I have never seen anything more sumptuous and more fertile . . . a marvelous green with the mixture of prickly pear and aloes in the hedges, the fields full of flowers" (quoted in B.E. White, Renoir, His Life, Art and Letters, New York, 1984, p. 105). This trip laid the ground work for Renoir's later paintings and "helped (him) sense the possibility in painting of reconciling the study of outdoor light and color on to a clear formal structure" (Renoir, London, 1985, exh. cat., p. 220). This is evident in Renoir's integration of the naturalistic shapes of the Algerian landscape with the geometric form of the building in the present painting. Using a brilliant palette and applying the paint with vigorous brushstrokes, Renoir captures the effects of the Algerian light at mid-day. Moreover, it was in Algeria that Renoir mastered the use of white for pictorial effect. He wrote, "In Algeria I discovered white. Everything is white, the bournouses, the walls, the minaret, the road" (quoted in ibid., p. 226).