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.
This work will be included in the second supplement to the Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles de Renoir being prepared by Guy-Patrice and Floriane Dauberville, published by Bernheim-Jeune.
Depicting a vase of voluptuous, enticing blooms, Bouquet d’anémones offers a vivid example of the flaming tones that Pierre-Auguste Renoir embraced with enthusiasm at the beginning of the 1900s. Executed with broad, rich brushstrokes and exploring a wide range of red and pink tones, the picture illustrates Renoir’s virtuosity, as it evokes the frailty of the flowers while maintaining a certain immediacy of execution. Although tapping into the classic tradition of flower paintings, works such as Bouquet d’anémones constituted a sort of symbolic transposition of the female body for Renoir. The sensuous, fleshy petals of the flowers became vehicles to the representation of the female body, a subject that occupied him consistently throughout the 1900s. Renoir confessed to the art dealer Ambroise Vollard, that he saw flowers as ‘research of flesh-tones for a nude’ (quoted in M. Lucy, J. House, Renoir in the Barnes Foundation, New Haven & London, 2012, p. 263). Even more explicitly, he once compared anemones with the female sex (reported in de Butler, Renoir: Écrits, Entretiens et Lettres sur l’Art, Paris, 2002, p. 207).
Flower paintings such as Bouquet d’anémones encouraged Renoir to challenge his own technique, pushing him to explore new depths of colour. ‘Painting flowers rests my brain’, he stated, ‘I do not bring the same tension to them as I do when I am face to face with a model. When I paint flowers, I place colours and experiment with values boldly, without worrying about wasting a canvas. I wouldn’t dare do this with a figure, for fear of spoiling the whole thing’ (quoted in M. Lucy, Ibid., p. 263).