Renoir Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago

Published by: Art Institute of Chicago

 
Online Scholarly Catalogue | Art Institute of Chicago
 
 

Collection Highlights

Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise
Cat. 2  Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (Rower's Lunch)
 
Woman at the Piano
Cat. 3  Woman at the Piano
 
Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (Francicsca and Angelina Wartenberg)
Cat. 9  Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (Francicsca and Angelina Wartenberg)
 
Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise
Cat. 11  Two Sisters (On the Terrace)
 
Madame Léon Clapisson
Cat. 17  Madame Léon Clapisson
 

Cat. 1

Vase of Flowers
May 1857
Graphite on grayish off-white wove paper; 173 × 103 mm1
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Dorothy Braude Edinburg to the Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude Memorial Collection, 2013.1011

This highly detailed study, rather labored in its execution, dates from Renoir’s early career. It stands as evidence of a precocious talent; he was still a teenager at the time it was made. It is unlikely that the young artist viewed the stylized motif firsthand; instead, as was usual in nineteenth-century art practice, he probably worked from a preexisting pattern. Copying was a standard component of artistic training at this time and, a few years after he made this work, Renoir enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts, where the demand for classes on ornamental drawing had grown considerably.2

It seems that Renoir took considerable care over this sheet, even adding the date. Vase of Flowers is ambitious despite its small scale. The level of detail in the work is remarkable. Though only a sketchbook sheet, the center of the bouquet is highly developed, with each petal or frond differentiated. The container that holds the blooms appears to have two tiers; the second is undeveloped, with only a loose suggestion of further decoration. Renoir used graphite in this particular drawing but, through variance of pressure, he created a range of effects. The faint outer edges, for instance, contrast with the intense heart of the arrangement.

Some of these characteristics—together with the decorative subject matter—point to his training as a painter of ceramics. In 1854, Renoir was apprenticed in a porcelain workshop on the rue des Fossés du Temple3 and purportedly spent four years painting cups and saucers, stopping only to spend his lunchtime at the Musée du Louvre.4 In the current sheet, occasional indentations in the paper, for instance, suggest that he applied the pencil with a steadiness that was surely an asset in his chosen, commercial line of work.

In 1858 (one year after making this drawing), Renoir stopped painting porcelain for a living, as the process had become mechanized and the profession declined. Nevertheless, it is clear that he valued this training, and in later years emphasized the value of apprenticeships. “Painting isn’t about daydreaming,” he complained. “First and foremost it is a manual trade, and one should do it as a good workman.”5 If Renoir’s later works exude leisurely ease, as this little drawing indicates, his virtuosity took years to hone.
Nancy Ireson

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Vase of Flowers was executed in [glossary:graphite] on smooth, grayish–off-white [glossary:wove] paper. The smoothness of the paper perfectly suited this detailed composition, enabling the graphite to glide over the surface. The paper was formerly bound in a sketchbook along the bottom, as evidenced by the irregular edge and binding holes (fig. 1.1). Using a relatively hard graphite, Renoir outlined the forms and, with a series of fine parallel lines, modeled the container and the flowers in the foreground (fig. 1.2). Under magnification, the darkest lines reveal a slight embossing—the result of pressing the graphite tip more firmly into the paper. Renoir employed fewer and fewer strokes of graphite as he worked outward from the center of the composition, suggesting the foot of the container with a bare minimum of lines. The drawing technique is direct, with no visible compositional revisions or alterations.

Media and Support

Support Characteristics
Primary paper type

Grayish–off-white, medium-thick, smooth wove paper, taken from a bound sketchbook.6

Furnish

Uniform, without visible inclusions or colored fibers.

Formation

Even, machine made.

Other characteristics

The bottom edge was torn from a former binding, producing an irregular edge with folds and creases and four binding holes, spaced 1.1 cm, 2.9 cm, 7.3 cm and 9.1 cm from the left edge. The left, top, and right edges are trimmed straight.

Dimensions

173 × 103 mm.

Preparatory Layers

No artistic surface alterations or coatings are visible under normal conditions or magnification. Under [glossary:UV] illumination, there is a pale-yellow visible-light [glossary:fluorescence] overall on the paper surface that is characteristic of a light gelatin surface [glossary:sizing].

Media Characteristics

The work was drawn directly in graphite. Examination under magnification reveals that modeling was created with thin strokes of hard graphite; there is no evidence of [glossary:stumping]. Erasure may have been used to create some small areas of highlights on the flowers and their container.

Compositional Development

No revisions or changes to the composition are visible under normal conditions or magnification.

Surface Treatment

No artistic surface fixative or coatings are visible under normal conditions, UV illumination, or magnification. A light gelatin sizing is visible under UV illumination.

Condition History

The drawing is in very good condition. There is a loss in the upper right corner of the support. Light discoloration is visible overall and is a little more pronounced at the edges. The support lifts slightly upward off the mat at the top and bottom edges. There is light smudging of the graphite medium overall. Mild surface soiling and smudges are evident around the perimeter of the drawing.

On the verso, there is a strip of transparent, colorless adhesive residue along the right edge. The center left edge exhibits a small area of [glossary:skinning].
Kimberly Nichols

Provenance

Estate of the artist.7

By descent to the artist’s grandson, Paul Renoir (born 1924), Cagnes.8

Paul Renoir, Cagnes, to at least Aug. 1977.9

Consigned by Mrs. J. Trent, Toronto, to Odon Wagner Gallery, Toronto, by 1991.10

Sold by Odon Wagner Gallery, Toronto, through Christie’s, New York, Feb. 14, 1991, lot 2, to Dorothy Braude Edinburg.11

Given by Dorothy Braude Edinburg to the Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.

 

Exhibition History

Turin, Galeria Stefano Pirra, 125 Dessins inédits de Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1971, p. 58 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Drawings in Dialogue: Old Master through Modern; The Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude Memorial Collection, June 3–July 30, 2006, p. 106, cat. 71 (ill.).

Other Documentation

Inscriptions and Distinguishing Marks

Recto

Inscription
Location: right bottom edge
Method: graphite
Content: Mai 1857 (fig. 1.3)

Examination Conditions and Technical Analysis

Raking Visible Light

Paper [glossary:support] characteristics identified.

Transmitted Visible Illumination

Paper mold characteristics identified.

Ultraviolet-Induced Visible Fluorescence (365 nm)

Light surface sizing detected overall.

Stereomicroscopy (80–100×)

Media identified.

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Imaging Department and in the conservation and curatorial files in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 1.4).

cat. 1  Vase of Flowers, May 1857.

fig. 1.2

Detail of Renoir’s Vase of Flowers (1857) showing the fine graphite lines. The Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.1011.

fig. 1.1

Detail of Renoir’s Vase of Flowers (1857) showing sketchbook binding holes. The Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.1011.

fig. 1.3

Detail of Renoir’s Vase of Flowers (1857) showing the inscribed date. The Art Institute of Chicago, 2013.1011.

Loc/Neg#FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
40380Digital UnknownRecto
G22529Digital Nov. 29, 2004Recto
G40580Digital 5-Jul-12Recto
ConservationDigitalOSCIDec. 10, 2012Recto, detail

 

fig. 1.4
 

Cat. 2

Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch)12
187513
Oil on canvas; 55 × 65.9 cm (21 5/8 × 25 15/16 in.)
Signed: Renoir. (lower left, in warm-black paint)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.437

The Dating of Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise and Renoir at Chatou

In this painting, Renoir shows a group of boaters—two oarsmen and a female companion (dressed for the water in blue flannel)—relishing an alfresco lunch. Bottles on a silver tray, fluted wine glasses, and a compote of fruit have been offered for their enjoyment on a brilliant white tablecloth. Judging from the bustle of boating traffic in the background, this is only one of many such groups that took to the waters of the Seine on a summer day, but Renoir transformed this commonplace scene into an idyllic episode of sensuality and pleasure. Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise was sold to Potter Palmer by Durand-Ruel, New York, on April 9, 1892, with the title Déjeuner de canotiers, just weeks before the May 1 opening of Renoir’s retrospective at the Durand-Ruel in Paris, which included the renowned scene of a boating luncheon along the Seine painted between 1880 and 1881, now in the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. (fig. 2.5 [Daulte 379; Dauberville 224]).14 In the catalogue that accompanied the retrospective, the Washington work was given the erroneous title Déjeuner à Bougival.15 Both the Chicago and Washington paintings, however, are set in the restaurant of the Maison Fournaise (fig. 2.6), located on what was then known as the Île du Chiard in the Seine, part of the municipality of Chatou, about one mile farther upriver and north of Bougival. The relationship of subject and site that the two paintings share determined for decades the dating of Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise to 1879. The earlier date of 1875 came to light in 1986, when the Chicago work was identified as that included in the second Impressionist exhibition held in April 1876. An astute connection was made between the catalogue title Déjeuner chez Fournaise and the snide though accurate description of it as “Tonnelle des Canotiers sans jambes” by the critic of Le soleil.16

With the new dating, Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise can be placed with a group of paintings thought to be executed during Renoir’s extended stay at the Maison Fournaise in the summer of 1875, which opened an important chapter in his portrayal of boating along the Seine. The other paintings include an interior luncheon or breakfast (fig. 2.7); at least two landscapes, one of a rowing subject (fig. 2.8 [Dauberville 141]) and another showing the nearby bridge at Chatou (Dauberville 136); and portraits of the proprietor of the restaurant, Alphonse Fournaise (fig. 2.9) and his daughter Alphonsine, both of which are dated and share the loose, flowing brushwork that characterizes Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise.17 Why Renoir was drawn to the Maison Fournaise in the summer of 1875 remains a mystery, as he was no doubt aware of its local fame as a destination for boat rental before that time. His parents lived in Louveciennes just downriver, near Bougival, and he had been painting in the area since the mid-1860s, most significantly in the summer of 1869 at La Grenouillère on the Île de Croissy, where he and Claude Monet completed plein air sketches of visitors and moored boats at the popular restaurant and bathing establishment in preparation for the Salon of 1870.18 Renoir’s interest in the Fournaise establishment came to an end as abruptly as it began. After 1881 he produced no further paintings with Chatou subjects, and his letter to Théodore Duret on Easter Monday of that year, during the execution of Two Sisters (On the Terrace) (cat. 11), was written during his last recorded stay in the town.19 The restaurant and hotel would continue to thrive for many years, gaining celebrity in a short story by Guy de Maupassant as the Restaurant Grillon, a “stronghold of canotiers.”20

Renoir and the Boating Theme

Renoir’s earliest depictions of leisure boating date to the 1860s and recall the paintings of Eugène Boudin and Gustave Courbet. In addition to peopling the landscape views of La Grenouillère in 1869 mentioned above, boaters continued to appear elliptically in such works as La promenade (fig. 2.10 [Daulte 55; Dauberville 257]), in which the male protagonist wears a boater’s straw hat decorated with red ribbon, and Bather with a Griffon Dog (fig. 2.11 [Daulte 54; Dauberville 596]), a classically posed scene of modern life that Renoir exhibited at the Salon of 1870, depicting two women who arrived at their secluded bathing spot by rowboat.21 Renoir also took a personal interest in rowing, boating, and regattas, a passion he shared with his Impressionist colleagues.22 In July 1865 he sailed down the Seine with Alfred Sisley’s brother, Henri, and a model from Édouard Manet’s studio to see the regattas at Le Havre, taking his paint box to make sketches along the way. Renoir wrote enthusiastically to his friend the artist Frédéric Bazille to join them in the adventure.23

Renoir’s work alongside Monet on the shores of the Seine at Argenteuil during the summer of 1874 apparently rekindled his interest in depicting leisure life along the river and boating subjects.24 On July 22 Renoir and Monet were joined by Manet, who was summering across the river at Petit-Gennevilliers and also painted a number of pictures of boaters that summer.25 Manet sent one of these, an explicitly Impressionist work with a bright palette depicting a boater and his female companion sitting by the docks, titled Argenteuil (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Tournai), to the Salon in May 1875. It received a lukewarm reception and was caricatured several times in the satiric journal Charivari. One caricature claimed that the pair of boaters had clearly run aground.26

Thus Renoir’s decision to paint at the Restaurant Fournaise in the summer of 1875 was likely informed by his experience the previous summer on the banks of the Seine at Argenteuil and by Manet’s recent attempt to bring Impressionism to the Salon with a boating theme. The question for Renoir was how to make the theme his own: how to break free of Monet’s predominantly landscape example, how to be a figure painter and create a genre scene based in reality but open to broader readings of idyllic leisure. At Fournaise he found ideal subject matter and willing models. Fournaise was a family-run establishment with a long history in the community that attracted a serious sporting clientele, artists, and members of the Parisian theater world, as well as the odd aristocrat seeking the outdoor experience (who was invariably out of place). Its Parisian equivalent was the Moulin de la Galette, the Montmartre dance hall. As Renoir’s close friend and biographer Georges Rivière later commented, “The exuberant rowers and the grisettes who accompanied them resembled the young folk and dancers of Moulin de la Galette; the infectious gaiety of this carefree crowd, boastful without arrogance and mocking without malice, attracted the painter, for whom the spectacle of popular enjoyments had always been of interest.”27

The subjects of boating and dancing shared an association with youthful bohemia and student life during the July Monarchy and inspired many treatments in popular culture, such as vaudeville theater, as early as 1845 (fig. 2.12). Before the expansion of the city during the Second Empire and the extension of the railway in the 1840s and 1850s, Parisians boated for pleasure at Bercy, on the east side of Paris near the current location of the finance ministry (fig. 2.13). Boating at Chatou became popular after the area was made accessible by rail and the land was acquired for commercial development by boatbuilder Alphonse Fournaise in 1857. The terrace upon which Renoir’s models sit for the Washington Luncheon of the Boating Party dates from 1867, when a Neoclassical, two-story, red-brick structure was constructed as a restaurant, a function it still serves today.28 Judging from the point of view of the Chicago Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise, the tonnelles or arbors were on the first floor under this terrace.

Renoir’s Models and Boating Fashion

As with many of Renoir’s genre paintings inspired by popular pastimes, the models for Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise were drawn from his immediate circle of acquaintances and may very well have been habitués of the place in which they are shown. The sunburned figure in the white shirt on the right has never been identified but may have been inspired by Renoir’s younger brother, the journalist Edmond Renoir, who served frequently as a model for his brother during the 1870s (fig. 2.14 [Daulte 319; Dauberville 554]).29 In a series of articles promoting the leisurely pleasures of Bougival and its environs, written for La vie moderne in 1883, Edmond wrote perceptively of boating on the Seine and insisted on extending his survey to Chatou and the Restaurant Fournaise because it reflected the “same world, same joviality, same insouciance.”30 The fact that the figure is sunburned suggests an intentional light mockery of the city dilettante who has forgotten his hat—license that one would expect a sibling of the modern family to take.

François Daulte first identified the figure on the left with the distinctive fan beard as “Monsieur de Lauradour,” a regular at La Grenouillère and the Restaurant Fournaise.31 This model appears in three closely dated Renoir paintings, including a bust portrait (The Rower of Bougival, c. 1876; Kunstmuseum Basel) in the same stipple technique used by the artist in Alfred Sisley (1876; cat. 4).32 Although the nature of their relationship is unclear, Renoir must have been on friendly terms with Lauradour, as at this time he rarely painted portraits of men he did not know.33 The third painting in which Lauradour appears is the Luncheon in the Barnes Collection (fig. 2.7), which is almost certainly an indoor scene set at the Restaurant Fournaise during a cooler time of day, as the woman in the picture wears the same blue dress, but under a white jacket.

That Renoir used the same two models for a complementary theme raises the question of whether the Barnes Luncheon and Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise were conceived as pendants. Luncheon of the Boating Party is slightly smaller but shares a horizontal format. Significant changes to the number and position of the figures in Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise suggest that Renoir may have originally intended to include only two people, a male and a female, as in the Barnes Luncheon. Visible in the [glossary:X-ray] (fig. 2.15) is what seems to be the outline of a figure in profile; the shape of the head suggests a woman with her hair pulled up off her neck. Renoir was able to accommodate a second male with his final placement of the female closer to the center of the painting. He thus established a pyramidal arrangement with the woman resting her elbow on the table and the relaxed, smoking oarsman on the right. The pose of the seated figures, together with the perspectival lines of the table, acts to carry the eye diagonally toward a sun-filled river playground, resulting in a superbly balanced composition.

The comparison of Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise with contemporary caricature reveals that Renoir followed up-to-date trends in sport fashion. Both male models may be identified as rowers by their white costume and the rowboats seen on the river through the trellis. A woman in a skiff near the shoreline wears a blue flannel dress that matches the one worn by the female figure seated at the table.34 In J. Pelcoq’s satiric image of boaters modeling their clothes for the Journal amusant in 1875, a number of male and female costumes for nautical outings are displayed, such as the collarless shirt with buttons and the sleeveless shirt for men, and the half-length jacket for women (fig. 2.16). A more distinguished “outdoor gentleman’s” look “à l’anglaise,” as suggested by the caption, is modeled by the man wearing a dark jacket, wide-collared shirt with lavaliere, and visored cap. Around his waist this figure sports what appears to be a sash. In Renoir’s painting, Lauradour is portrayed in a combination of these fashions, including the collarless shirt, white jacket, and blue sash. Renoir’s bust portrait of Lauradour shows him to be as meticulous about the stylish trim of his moustache and beard as any of the sportsmen in Pelcoq’s illustration. It is worth noting that on the bank to the right of this scene of boaters sits a woman dressed in a jacket and pants—an outfit that would better accommodate outdoor physical activity.

Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise as a Bold Step Forward in Renoir’s Use of Color

In this relatively small canvas—a no. 15 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size canvas turned horizontally to become a landscape format—Renoir indulged his predilection for pure color. In a remarkably audacious move for the mid-1870s, the artist limited his palette to emphasize the primary colors (see Technical Report). Most distinctive in this regard is the contrasting treatment of the two male boaters. The folds and shadows in the shirt of the smoking figure on the right are rendered in cool blue tones, whereas the trim of Lauradour’s jacket and shirt is entirely yellow. The hair color of the two men is consistent with this yellow/blue color distinction (fig. 2.17). Yellow highlights are found throughout the painting, from the tablecloth and glassware to the flowers, the tree by the water, and the opposite shoreline. Generous application of lead white paint in the men’s shirts, the tablecloth, and the surface of the river behind them contributes to the striking luminosity of the scene (see Palette in the Technical Report). The brushwork of the shirt on the right (fig. 2.18) can be compared to that of the white shirt in the portrait of Alphonse Fournaise (fig. 2.9), in which a flat brush was used to apply the paint and model the folds of the sleeves. In this bold display of color, the blue of the woman’s dress acts as a neutral tone to anchor the composition, while yellow and white encourage movement of the eye over the picture plane.

The abrupt vertical of the trellis, with its flowering vine, divides interior from exterior, relaxation from physical activity—especially the focused task of navigating a boat. The riverscape in the background here functions to keep the active life of water sports at a distance from the main action of a contemplative smoke and casual conversation over an outdoor meal during summer. What we see in the considered composition and execution of Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise, though based in observed reality of a popular nineteenth-century pastime, has more to do with memory and ideals, with a peaceful utopian existence as envisioned by the artist. Robert Herbert has noted that Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise “has the air of a fable,” while Richard Brettell has likened it to the fêtes galantes of Jean-Antoine Watteau.35 This is not the place to address the degree to which eighteenth-century art influenced Renoir’s development of the modern genre subject, with its youthful cast of characters in quiet conversation, whose mundane moment of leisure has been infused with a decided sensuality. But Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise suggests a renewed appreciation of the art of the ancien régime and a revisiting of the pastoral tradition through the eyes of an indefatigable colorist.
John Collins

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) was painted in several [glossary:wet-in-wet] campaigns and shows evidence of a number of compositional changes. The artist began with a [glossary:commercially primed], no. 15 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size [glossary:canvas] turned on its side, onto which he probably added a selective preparatory layer covering specific parts of the compositional area.36 This selective layer has a warmer hue and probably contains added [glossary:oil] medium, which allowed for minimum absorption of subsequent paint layers and provided a warm background off of which Renoir could play the cool colors of the background and water.

There are significant compositional changes in the left half of the composition. [glossary:X-ray] and raking-light images suggest that, in an earlier version of the painting, there was a figure situated in the space between the two individuals who appear on the left in the final composition. Summary [glossary:underdrawing] lines in a dry medium may be related to this figure’s head; additional lines seem to indicate the left side of the trellis opening and the outer curve of the far-left visible figure’s leg, but the nature of these lines is rather intermittent and haphazard. The left side of the original composition seems to have featured only this single figure painted in profile. Heavy brushwork under the far-left visible figure suggests additional changes before the artist executed the forward-facing male figure.

There are also some minor and partially developed alterations to the right side of the canvas. In the X-ray, a curvilinear form beginning just to the right of the figure and continuing through the torso and a second form just below it may suggest elements of the back of a chair. As these elements were abandoned in their early stages, it is unclear how this placement would have affected the posture of the male figure.

Renoir used a limited [glossary:palette], and many of the hues were mixed on the surface of the painting. Instead of carefully blending mixtures before dabbing them onto the surface, the artist appears to have dipped his brush in two or more colors and applied them directly to the canvas, where they exist almost side by side; in other areas, he applied a new color into a still-wet stroke to create this effect. The structure of the paint layers suggests that the painting was probably executed in a limited number of sessions, with each wet-in-wet layer allowed to dry before the next layer was applied. The brushwork ranges from heavily blended and smooth to thick [glossary:impasto], and the heaviest texture appears primarily in the bottom half of the composition. Various small daubs and details, including the highlights on the bottles in the foreground and the small flowers above the figures’ heads, seem to be the final steps of the process.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 2.19).37

Signature

Signed: Renoir. (lower left, in warm-black paint)38 (fig. 1.1, fig. 1.2).

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).39

Standard format

The original dimensions of the canvas were approximately 54 × 64.7 cm, according to 1971 pretreatment measurements.40 This probably corresponds to a no. 15 portrait (figure) standard-size (65 × 54 cm) canvas, turned horizontally.41

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 22.0V (0.9) × 23.9H (0.8) threads/cm. The horizontal threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the vertical threads to the [glossary:weft].42

Canvas characteristics

The canvas has very mild [glossary:cusping] around the edges, especially on the left, corresponding to the placement of the original tacks.

Stretching

Current stretching: When the painting was lined in 1971, the original dimensions were slightly increased on all sides (see Conservation History).

Original stretching: Based on cusping visible in the X-ray, the original tacks were placed 5–6 cm apart.

Stretcher/strainer

Current stretcher: Four-member redwood [glossary:ICA spring stretcher]. Depth: 2.6 cm.

Original stretcher: Five-member keyable stretcher with vertical [glossary:crossbar]. Depth: Approximately 1.8 cm (fig. 2.20).43

Manufacturer’s/supplier’s marks

Stamp
Location: original canvas (covered by [glossary:lining])
Method: stamp
Content: M_DEFORGE CARPENTIER Sr / COULEURS FINES / ET TOILES [á] PEINDRE / 6 Rue Halevy 6 / PARIS / [. . .] Rue Legendre, 62 [. . .] (fig. 1.3; fig. 1.4)44

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

Not determined (probably glue).45

Ground application/texture

The canvas was prepared with commercially applied priming that extends to the edges of the [glossary:tacking margins]. This commercial priming appears to be a single layer, is rather thin and porous (measuring approximately 5–60 µm), and does not completely fill the [glossary:weave] (fig. 2.21).

Renoir appears to have added a selective preparatory layer to parts of the canvas, especially visible in the top half of the composition.46 This selective layer is thicker, smoother, and more medium-rich than the commercial [glossary:ground]; it leaves some of the canvas texture visible. The outer perimeter of this layer has a soft edge, suggesting that it was applied with a brush; however, the overall texture of this layer is very smooth with no discernible brushstrokes (fig. 2.22).

Color

The color of the commercially applied ground appears to be off-white, but it is difficult to determine. While from the surface there is no microscopic evidence of additional pigment particles in this layer, analysis indicates the presence of a small amount of an iron-containing pigment, such as iron oxide red or yellow. This commercial layer is slightly porous and has darkened due to the combined effects of accumulated grime and the saturation of the [glossary:wax-resin lining] material (see Condition Summary and Conservation History). Because of this discoloration, it is difficult to determine what effect this limited amount of colored pigment might have had on the overall tone of this layer.

The selective preparatory layer is slightly tinted to appear warm beige, and dark particles are visible in it under [glossary:stereomicroscopic examination] (fig. 2.23). In some areas, largely in the upper portions of the background, this layer was left exposed by the artist to provide a warm contrast to the cool tones of the river (fig. 2.24).

Materials/composition

The commercial ground is predominantly lead white with a significant amount of barium sulfate. There are also small amounts of iron oxide red or yellow, iron-containing aluminosilicates, silica, calcium-based whites, and trace amounts of bone black.47

The selective preparatory layer is also predominantly lead white with iron oxide red or yellow and barium- and calcium-containing compounds. Stereomicroscopic examination of this layer suggests the presence of black or dark-brown particles.48 The [glossary:binder] for both layers is estimated to be oil.49

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch
Extent/character

Infrared examination reveals very summary contour outlines that may relate to compositional elements in the left half of the painting, including the possible outline of a head (visible in the X-ray) located between the two visible figures (see Paint Layer and Technical Summary); the continuation of the vertical line that forms the left side of the trellis opening; and a faint, curved line near the bottom left corner that relates to the outer contour of the far-left visible figure’s leg (fig. 2.25).50

Medium/technique

Dry media (chalk or charcoal?) (fig. 2.26).

Revisions

No compositional changes noted in drawing stage; see Paint Layer.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

It seems that Renoir began this composition with the figures, bringing up the background colors around them after they were painted and also after any major compositional changes. This is especially evident in the female figure, which was painted in relatively radio transparent [glossary:pigments] easily penetrated by the X-ray. [glossary:X-radiography] also indicates that landscape elements do not pass under the female figure’s head, and brushstrokes come up to and abruptly end around the figures, creating a kind of halo effect (fig. 2.27). The table in the center seems to be one of the earliest compositional elements, with the figures and much of the background brought in around it.

There is evidence that the artist made significant changes to this composition. Thick, directional brushwork visible in the lower left of the canvas does not match the final composition, suggesting that there are possible pentimenti in this area (fig. 2.28); these changes are clearer in [glossary:raking light] and X-radiography. The X-ray documents what appears to be a profile and head (perhaps corresponding with some of the underdrawing lines) situated between the two visible figures in the left half of the composition (fig. 2.29). The right arm of the figure in profile appears to extend to the table, along a line similar to that of the visible female figure. The thickness of the added paint layers in this area obscures the original colors of the underlying composition, making a clear identification difficult. [glossary:Cross-sectional analysis] in this area indicates that the lower part of the original figure’s costume was a light bluish-white, with areas of reddish and purple highlights, similar in tone to the clothing of the figure on the right side of the painting, but with greater impasto (fig. 2.30).51 The composition appears to have featured only two figures in this early stage: one on the right and one on the left (in profile). Examination of the left side of the painting in raking light calls attention to a ridge of paint that echoes the curved line of this figure’s back (though it is farther to the left). This may indicate movement of the original figure farther to the left or an adjustment to the position of the visible figure on the far left. Examination in raking light also suggests that Renoir painted out original compositional choices on the far left in thick, short, diagonal brushstrokes before he executed the almost forward-facing head of the figure in the final composition (fig. 2.31). The bulk of this original figure, however, does not appear to have been painted out, but merely covered in the process of executing the two visible figures.

Examination in raking light and X-radiography suggest that elements on the right side of the canvas may also have been altered. A horizontal, curvilinear form beginning just to the right of the figure and passing in front of his torso, with a smaller, horizontal element below it, suggests a change in the position of the chair. It is unclear how the placement of the chair would have affected the posture of the figure, and these elements appear to have been abandoned in their early stages (fig. 2.32). In natural light as well as in the X-ray, it appears that the angle of the right arm of this figure was also changed. The elbow was raised and the forearm made narrower in the final paint layers; however, the original position of the elbow is still visible on the surface (fig. 2.33). The exact placement of the figure’s left arm and hand also appear to have been slightly adjusted. Downward directional strokes through the torso as well as the thick strokes of background and [glossary:underpainting] across and around the head may hint at further changes to this figure’s posture.

In the top half of the composition, the background, the initial layers of the water, and the shoreline were painted first. The outline of the trellis opening was established next, followed by the boats and rowers, and finally the trellis and climbing foliage; each layer was allowed to dry before the subsequent elements were executed. Renoir developed the water with heavy, textured brushstrokes and added color throughout the process (generally before the trellis lattice and climbing foliage) (fig. 2.34); however, the initial layers seem relatively thin in most areas, passing under various compositional elements in the top half.

Overall, the paint was largely applied wet-in-wet over a few campaigns, and each layer was allowed to dry between sessions. Most of the colors were mixed directly on the canvas rather than on the palette (fig. 2.35). At times, the artist dipped his brush into two or three separate colors before applying a stroke to the canvas, and swirls of unmixed paint can be seen throughout the work (fig. 2.36).

The soft edges of the objects and figures—at times defined as much by the texture of the brushstroke, a physical ridge of paint, as by the color shift itself—indicate that Renoir alternated between thicker paint applied with a soft brush and more medium-rich or sometimes thinned paint applied with a stiffer brush (fig. 2.37). In some areas, soft, curled peaks of paint call attention not to the application of paint but to the lift of the brush (fig. 2.38). It is also noteworthy that he used medium-rich toning layers, sometimes called glazes. The glazes seem limited to the woman in the dark-blue dress, for which he layered translucent, oil-rich dark reds and greens over an opaque blue-and-white mixture to add tonal nuance and a sense of volume, incorporating pure blue, red lake, yellow, and perhaps black (fig. 2.39). This smoothness is countered by heavy brushwork elsewhere and by the artist’s manipulation of the canvas texture. Despite the smoother texture offered by a thick preparation, the artist accentuated the weave texture in many areas, dragging a loaded brush across the surface and catching only the thread tops (fig. 2.40).

Painting tools

Brushes, mostly soft to medium, flat and round, with strokes up to 1 cm wide.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following pigments:52 lead white, cobalt blue,53 chrome yellow, viridian, emerald green, vermilion, two red lakes, and possibly chrome orange.54

Stereomicroscopic examination of the surface suggests the presence of black.

The observation of a characteristic salmon-colored [glossary:fluorescence] under [glossary:UV] light indicates that Renoir used fluorescing red lake in areas of the female figure’s costume and chair, and mixed it with other colors in the signature and flesh tones (fig. 2.41).55 Cross-sectional analysis reveals that he used a second, nonfluorescing red lake in selected areas of the composition.56

Binding media

Oil (estimated).57

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

A [glossary:natural-resin varnish] was removed and replaced with the current [glossary:synthetic varnish] in 1971. Pretreatment photographs of the verso indicate that the natural-resin varnish had penetrated cracks in the paint layer and stained the back of the canvas (fig. 2.42). This suggests that either the natural-resin varnish was applied after the painting had aged, or the work was cleaned in the past, causing partially dissolved varnish and solvent to stain the canvas (see Conservation History). There are residues of the earlier natural-resin varnish around the areas of impasto. Because the paint is medium rich and the artist-applied ground is nonporous, the current [glossary:varnish] has probably had minimal impact on the overall tonality of the painting. The thin, synthetic surface coating only slightly saturates the painting, adds more gloss, and emphasizes the overall texture of the work.

Conservation History

The painting’s condition was first documented in 1921, when it was noted that the darks were cracking.58 In 1971 the painting was cleaned, restretched, lined, and revarnished.59 The 1971 pretreatment condition notes indicate that the work was stretched on a five-member stretcher and had brittle fabric and a discolored varnish. Before the lining was applied, grime and the natural-resin varnish were removed with solvents, while additional overpaint on the right figure’s pants was removed mechanically. The lining process involved facing the work with starch paste, and then adhering a new piece of linen with wax resin. The painting was restretched on a redwood ICA spring stretcher slightly larger than the composition, leaving a small, unpainted border around the perimeter. The changes to the dimensions are as follows: in the pretreatment report, the work measured 21 5/16 × 25 1/2 in., while in the posttreatment report it was listed as 21 5/8 × 25 7/8 in. After the painting had been restretched and the facing removed, it was given three coats of synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA) and retouched.

Condition Summary

The work is in good condition. It is wax-resin lined and attached to a four-member spring stretcher with tacks. The wax resin has saturated the commercial priming layer and, in conjunction with accumulated grime, has altered the ground color from white to taupe, while the heat and pressure of the lining process slightly increased the textural presence of the weave. Due to the thickness of the selective preparatory layer and subsequent paint layers, the overall tonality of the painting does not appear to be affected. Some areas of thinner paint, areas of exposed commercial priming, and thinner areas of artist-applied priming were slightly pushed into the canvas by the pressure and heat of the lining process (microcracking is visible under the microscope). The original tacking margins were flattened when the painting was lined, and much abrasion is present around the original edges of the work. Some of this abrasion, as well as other mild abrasion throughout the work, is likely a result of the prelining cleaning. The restretching increased the dimensions on all sides, leaving an unpainted border almost one-quarter-inch wide around the edges of the composition. The paint layer is in very good condition, with few areas of cracking and localized minor losses. Pronounced cracking is limited to the dark-blue dress of the female figure on the left, where Renoir apparently employed medium-rich glazes. The work has a glossy synthetic varnish, and minor residues of discolored natural-resin varnish are present around areas of impasto.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

Current frame (2008): The frame is not original to the painting. It is a French (Paris), mid-nineteenth-century, Neoclassical Revival, cove frame with cabled fluting, acanthus leaves at the miters, and a stepped frieze. The frame has water and oil gilding over red bole on gesso and compo ornament. The ornament and sight molding are selectively burnished; the cove is burnished and retains its original gilding and glue sizing. The pine molding is mitered and joined with angled, dovetailed splines. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is guilloche outer molding; cove side; fillet; torus with molded, centered, imbricated laurel-and-berry ornament and acanthus leaves at the miters; fillet; cove with cabled fluting and buds and acanthus leaves at the miters; and stepped frieze in three sections: ribbon and stave followed by fillet, leaf tip followed by fillet and cove, and fillet with cove sight edge (fig. 2.43).60

Previous frame (removed 2008): The painting was previously housed in an American (New York), mid-twentieth-century, French Regency, stylized frame of water-gilt, carved basswood with a décapé finish (fig. 2.44).61

Previous frame (installed by 1933, removed sometime between 1960 and c. 1975): The work was previously housed in a late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century, Louis XIV Revival, convex frame with deeply recessed cast plaster ornament of alternating flowers and pendent bellflowers, bracketed by foliate scrolls, with acanthus leaves at the miters.62 The frame had water and oil gilding on a dark red-brown bole over gesso and cast plaster. The sides and frieze were burnished, and the ornament was selectively burnished. The gilding was toned with raw umber and a white wash and speckled overall with black and white. The molding was mitered and nailed. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, was ovolo with leaf-tip ornament; scotia side; convex face with alternating flower and pendent bellflower ornament, bracketed by foliate scrolls, with acanthus leaves at the miters; hollow frieze; ogee with leaf-tip ornament; cove; and fillet with cove sight edge (fig. 2.45).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Sold by the artist to Durand-Ruel, Paris, July 8, 1881, for 600 francs.63

Acquired by Alphonse Legrand, Paris, by Nov. 21, 1887.64

Sold by Alphonse Legrand, Paris, to Boussod, Valadon & Cie (Theo van Gogh), Paris, Nov. 21, 1887, for 200 francs.65

Sold by Boussod, Valadon & Cie (Theo van Gogh), Paris, to Guyotin, Paris, Nov. 22, 1887, for 350 francs.66

Sold by Guyotin, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, Paris, Mar. 21, 1892, for 1,300 francs.67

Transferred from Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, New York, Mar. 22, 1892.68

Sold by Durand-Ruel, New York, to Potter Palmer, Chicago, Apr. 9, 1892, for $1,100.69

By descent from Potter Palmer (died 1902), Chicago, to the Palmer family.70

Given by the Palmer family to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.

Exhibition History

Paris, 11, rue Le Peletier, 2e exposition de peinture [second Impressionist exhibition], Apr. 1876, cat. 221, as Déjeûner chez Fournaise.71

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings from the Collection of Mrs. Potter Palmer, May 10–Nov. 1910, cat. 51, as Breakfast by the river.72

Art Institute of Chicago, “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933, cat. 350. (fig. 2.46)73

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Manet and Renoir, Nov. 29, 1933–Jan. 1, 1934, no cat. no. (ill.).74

Art Institute of Chicago, “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture for 1934, June 1–Oct. 31, 1934, cat. 239.75

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Independent Painters of Nineteenth Century Paris, Mar. 15–Apr. 28, 1935, cat. 45 (ill.).

Arts Club of Chicago, Origins of Modern Art, Apr. 2–30, 1940, cat. 13.

Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art, Opening Exhibition, Apr. 8–June 3, 1951, no cat. no. (ill.).

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Apr. 4–May 18, 1952, no cat.76

New York, Wildenstein, Olympia’s Progeny: French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings (1865–1905); Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children in Manhattan, Inc., Oct. 28–Nov. 27, 1965, cat. 23 (ill.).

Milwaukee Art Center, The Inner Circle, Sept. 15–Oct. 23, 1966, cat. 81 (ill.).

Portland (Ore.) Art Museum, 75 Masterworks: An Exhibition of Paintings in Honor of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Portland Art Association, 1892–1967, Dec. 12, 1967–Jan. 21, 1968, cat. 13 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 28 (ill.).

Manchester, N.H., Currier Gallery of Art, Feb. 18–May 28, 1975, no cat.77

Pasadena, Calif., Norton Simon Museum of Art, Jan. 27–Oct. 31, 1978, no cat.78

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27–Aug. 31, 1980, cat. 21 (ill.).

London, Hayward Gallery, Renoir, Jan. 30–Apr. 21, 1985, cat. 48 (ill.); Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, May 14–Sept. 2, 1985, cat. 47 (ill.); Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Oct. 9, 1985–Jan. 5, 1986.

Art Institute of Chicago, Tour de France: Paintings, Photographs, Prints, and Drawings from the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dec. 9, 1989–Mar. 4, 1990, no cat. no. (ill.).

Washington, D.C., Phillips Collection, Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” Sept. 21, 1996–Feb. 23, 1997, cat. 40 (ill.).79

Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, June 27–Sept. 14, 1997, not in cat.; Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 17, 1997–Jan. 4, 1998; Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, Feb. 8–Apr. 26, 1998 (Chicago only). (fig. 2.47)80

Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Theo van Gogh (1857–1891): Art Dealer, Collector, and Brother of Vincent, June 24–Sept. 5, 1999, cat. 125 (ill.); Paris, Musée d’Orsay, Sept. 27, 1999–Jan. 9, 2000.<

Art Institute of Chicago, Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte,” June 16–Sept. 19, 2004, cat. 107 (ill.).

London, National Gallery, Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, Feb. 21–May 20, 2007, cat. 34 (ill.); Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, June 8–Sept. 9, 2007; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 4, 2007–Jan. 6, 2008.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 23 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Case for Wine: From King Tut to Today, July 11–Sept. 20, 2009, no cat.81

Kunstmuseum Basel, Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie; The Early Years, Apr. 1–Aug. 12, 2012, cat. 40 (ill.).

Selected References

Catalogue de la 2e exposition de peinture, exh. cat. (Alcan-Lévy, 1876), p. 21, cat. 221.82

Émile Porcheron, “Promenades d’un flâneur: Les impressionnistes,” Le soleil, Apr. 4, 1876, pp. 2–3.83

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings from the Collection of Mrs. Potter Palmer, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1910), cat. 51.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Library Notes,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 15, 5 (Sep.–Oct. 1921), p. 161 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, and Paintings, pt. 2, Paintings (Art Institute of Chicago, 1922), p. 69, cat. 844.84

Art Institute of Chicago, “Accessions and Loans,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 16, 3 (May 1922), p. 47.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1925), pp. 67 (ill.); 150, cat. 844.85

M. C., “Renoirs in the Institute,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 19, 3 (Mar. 1925), p. 33 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir (Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1929), p. 124, no. 102 (ill.).

Reginald Howard Wilenski, French Painting (Hale, Cushman & Flint, 1931), p. 262.

Daniel Catton Rich, “The Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection,” in Exhibition of the Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection: Modern Paintings and Watercolors, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), p. 7.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture; Lent from American Collections, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, 3rd ed., exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1933), p. 50, cat. 350.

Daniel Catton Rich, “Französische Impressionisten im Art Institute zu Chicago,” Pantheon: Monatsschrift für Freunde und Sammler der Kunst 11, 3 (Mar. 1933), pp. 77–78. Translated by C. C. H. Drechsel as “French Impressionists in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Pantheon/Cicerone (Mar. 1933), p. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Rearrangement of the Paintings Galleries,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27, 7 (Dec. 1933), p. 115.

Pennsylvania Museum of Art, “Manet and Renoir,” Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin 29, 158 (Dec. 1933), pp. 16 (ill.), 19.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1934, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1934), p. 40, cat. 239.

“Fourteen Notable Modern Paintings,” Fortune 9 (Jan. 1934), p. 33 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), p. 28.86

George Harold Edgell, Independent Painters of Nineteenth Century Paris, exh. cat. (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1935), pp. 30, cat. 45; 73 (ill.).

Arts Club of Chicago, Origins of Modern Art, exh. cat. (Arts Club of Chicago, 1940), cat. 13.

Reginald Howard Wilenski, Modern French Painters (Reynal & Hitchcook, [1940]), p. 338.87

Art Institute of Chicago, “The United States Now an Art Publishing Center,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 36, 2 (Feb. 1942), p. 30.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Potter Palmer and the Painting Department,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 37, 6 (Nov. 1943), p. 86.

Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1945), p. 36.88

Birmingham (Ala.) Museum of Art, Catalogue of the Opening Exhibition, exh. cat. (Birmingham Museum of Art, 1951), cover (ill.), p. 31.

Dorothy Bridaham, Renoir in the Art Institute of Chicago (Conzett & Huber, 1954), pl. 4.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Artist Looks at People,” Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 52, 4 (Dec. 1, 1958), p. 100.

Raymond Cogniat, Le siècle des impressionnistes (Flammarion, 1959), cover (ill.).

Ishbel Ross, Silhouette in Diamonds: The Life of Mrs. Potter Palmer (Harper & Bros., 1960), p. 155.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), pp. 292 (ill.), 396.89

Kermit S. Champa, “Olympia’s Progeny,” in Wildenstein, Olympia’s Progeny: French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings (1865–1905); Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children in Manhattan, Inc., exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 1965), n.pag.

Wildenstein, Olympia’s Progeny: French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings (1865–1905); Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children in Manhattan, Inc., exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 1965), cat. 23 (ill.).

J. M., “Art Israel: 26 Painters and Sculptors,” Calendar of the Art Institute of Chicago 59, 3 (May 1965), p. 8 (detail).

Milwaukee Art Center, The Inner Circle, exh. cat. (Milwaukee Art Center/Arrow, 1966), cat. 81 (ill.).

Charles C. Cunningham, Instituto de arte de Chicago, El mundo de los museos 2 (Editorial Codex, 1967), pp. 11, ill. 31; 58, fig. 1.

Portland (Ore.) Art Museum, 75 Masterworks: An Exhibition of Paintings in Honor of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Portland Art Association, 1892–1967, exh. cat. (Portland Art Museum/Graphic Arts Center, [1967]), cat. 13 (ill.).

André Parinaud and Charles C. Cunningham, Art Institute of Chicago, Grands Musées 2 (Hachette-Filipacchi, 1969), pp. 36, fig. 1; 69, no. 31 (ill.).

Charles C. Cunningham and Satoshi Takahashi, Shikago bijutsukan [Art Institute of Chicago], Museums of the World 32 (Kodansha, 1970), pp. 47, pl. 33; 159.

William Gaunt, Impressionism: A Visual History (Praeger, 1970), pp. 236–37, pl. 91.

William Gaunt, The Impressionists (Thames & Hudson, 1970), pp. 236–37, pl. 91; 242; 291.90

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (Abrams, 1970), p. 86 (ill.).91

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 1, Figures, 1860–1890 (Durand-Ruel, 1971), pp. 232–33, cat. 305 (ill.).

Elda Fezzi, L’opera completa di Renoir: Nel periodo impressionista, 1869–1883, Classici dell’arte 59 (Rizzoli, 1972), pp. 65, pl. IL; 108–09, cat. 452 (ill.).92

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 24; 84–85, cat. 28 (ill.).

John Rewald, “Theo van Gogh, Goupil, and the Impressionists,” Gazette des beaux-arts 81, 1248 (Jan. 1973), cover (detail); pp. 13, fig. 7; 14; 15.

John Rewald, “Theo van Gogh, Goupil, and the Impressionists—II,” Gazette des beaux-arts 81, 1249 (Feb. 1973), p. 103.

Mike Samuels and Nancy Samuels, Seeing with the Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques, and Uses of Visualization (Random House, 1975), p. 71 (ill.).

Walter Pach, Auguste Renoir: Leben und Werk (M. DuMont Schauberg, 1976), pp. 115, fig. 51; 173.

Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Masterpieces (Art Institute of Chicago, 1978), pp. 20; 100–01, pl. 56.

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and Art Institute of Chicago, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, exh. cat. (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, 1980), pp. 15, no. 21 (ill.); 68.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Subscription Series,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 74, 1 (Jan.–Mar. 1980), p. 18 (ill.).

Joel Isaacson, “Impressionism and Journalistic Illustration,” Arts Magazine 56, 10 (June 1982), p. 105, fig. 37.

Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1985), pp. 166–67, cat. 47 (ill.); 168.

Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1985), pp. 94, no. 48 (ill.); 216, no. 48 (ill.); 217.

Denys Sutton, “Renoir’s Kingdom,” Apollo 121, 278 (Apr. 1985), pp. 244; 247, fig. 8.

Charles S. Moffett, ed., with the assistance of Ruth Berson, Barbara Lee Williams, and Fronia E. Wissman, The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986), p. 164.

Richard R. Brettell, French Impressionists (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1987), pp. 30–31 (detail), 32 (ill.), 119.

Françoise Cachin and Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, with the assistance of Monique Nonne, Van Gogh à Paris, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1988), p. 375 (ill.).

Robert L. Herbert, Impressionism: Art, Leisure, and Parisian Society (Yale University Press, 1988), cover (ill.); pp. 246–47, pl. 250; 253.

Raffaele De Grada, Renoir (Giorgio Mondadori, 1989), p. 72, pl. 49.

Gloria Groom and J. Russell Harris, Tour de France: Paintings, Photographs, Prints, and Drawings from the Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1989), fig. 8.

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989), p. 78, fig. 1.

Martha Kapos, ed., The Impressionists: A Retrospective (Hugh Lauter Levin/Macmillan, 1991), p. 183, pl. 55.

Russell Ash and Bernard Higton, eds., The Impressionists’ River: Views of the Seine (Universe, 1992), p. 12 (ill.).

James Yood, Feasting: A Celebration of Food in Art; Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Universe, 1992), pp. 15 (detail); 50–51, pl. 16.

Anne Distel, “Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Luncheon (Le déjeuner),” in Richard J. Wattenmaker et al., Great French Paintings from the Barnes Foundation: Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Early Modern (Knopf/Lincoln University Press, 1993), p. 54, fig. 1.

Anne Distel, Renoir: “Il faut embellir,” Découvertes Gallimard: Peinture 177 (Gallimard/Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993), pp. 73 (detail), 169. Translated by Lory Frankel as Renoir: A Sensuous Vision (Thames & Hudson, 1995), pp. 73 (detail), 169.

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago, with an introduction by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1993), pp. 10, 64 (ill.).

Gerhard Gruitrooy, Renoir: A Master of Impressionism (Todtri, 1994), pp. 47 (ill.), 49, 73.

Tom Frederickson, Culinary Art: Recipes from Great Chicago Restaurants Illustrated with Works of Art from the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1995), p. 17 (ill.).

Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 1, Reviews (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), pp. 51, 103.

Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 2, Exhibited Works (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), pp. 44–45, 63 (ill.).

Francesca Castellani, Pierre-Auguste Renoir: La vita e l’opera (Mondadori, 1996), p. 129 (ill.).

Stephen Kern, Eyes of Love: The Gaze in English and French Paintings and Novels, 1840–1900 (Reaktion, 1996), pp. 59, ill. 25; 60.

Eliza E. Rathbone, “Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party: Tradition and the New,” in Eliza E. Rathbone, Katherine Rothkopf, Richard R. Brettell, and Charles S. Moffett, Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” exh. cat. (Phillips Collection/Counterpoint, 1996), p. 32.

Eliza E. Rathbone, Katherine Rothkopf, Richard R. Brettell, and Charles S. Moffett, Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” exh. cat. (Phillips Collection/Counterpoint, 1996), pp. 198, pl. 40; 258.

Katherine Rothkopf, “From Argenteuil to Bougival: Life and Leisure on the Seine, 1868–1882,” in Eliza E. Rathbone, Katherine Rothkopf, Richard R. Brettell, and Charles S. Moffett, Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” exh. cat. (Phillips Collection/Counterpoint, 1996), p. 73.

Colin B. Bailey, with the assistance of John B. Collins, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Canada/Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 186; 308, n. 8. Translated by Danielle Chaput and Julie Desgagné, with support from Nada Kerpan for the texts by Linda Nochlin, as Les portraits de Renoir: Impressions d’une époque, exh. cat. (Gallimard/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, 1997), pp. 186; 308, n. 8.

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 6; 8 (detail); 27–28; 30; 35; 47–48; 59; 72; 83, pl. 2; 109.

Charlotte Gere and Marina Vaizey, Great Woman Collectors (Philip Wilson/Abrams, 1999), p. 133.

Kawamura Memorial Museum of Art, Miyagi Museum of Art, and Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art, Runowāru ten/Renoir: Modern Eyes, exh. cat. (Hokkaido Shinbunsha, 1999), p. 185, fig. 5.

Chris Stolwijk and Richard Thomson, with a contribution by Sjraar van Heugten, Theo van Gogh (1857–1891): Art Dealer, Collector, and Brother of Vincent, exh. cat. (Van Gogh Museum/Waanders, 1999), p. 216, cat. 125.

Richard Thomson, “Theo van Gogh: An Honest Broker,” in Chris Stolwijk and Richard Thomson, with a contribution by Sjraar van Heugten, Theo van Gogh (1857–1891): Art Dealer, Collector, and Brother of Vincent, exh. cat. (Van Gogh Museum/Waanders, 1999), pp. 123; 125, cat. 125 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills, 2000), pp. 9, 43, 45 (ill.), 50, 71, 77.

Gilles Néret, Renoir: Painter of Happiness, 1841–1919, trans. Josephine Bacon (Taschen, 2001), p. 130 (ill.).

Sylvie Patin, L’impressionisme (Bibliothèque des Arts, 2002), p. 119.

Christie’s, London, Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, sale cat. (Christie’s, Feb. 3, 2003), p. 31 (ill.).

Robert L. Herbert et al., Seurat and the Making of “La Grande Jatte,” exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/University of California Press, 2004), pp. 112, cat. 107 (ill.); 113; 277.

Norio Shimada, Inshoha bijutsukan [The history of Impressionism] (Shogakukan, 2004), pp. 144–45 (ill.).

Eleanor Dwight, ed., The Letters of Pauline Palmer: A Great Lady of Chicago’s First Family (M. T. Train/Scala, 2005), pp. 301, 302–03 (ill.).

Kyoko Kagawa, Runowaru [Pierre-Auguste Renoir], Seiyo kaiga no kyosho [Great masters of Western art] 4 (Shogakukan, 2006), p. 70 (ill.).

Colin B. Bailey, “‘The Greatest Luminosity, Colour, and Harmony’: Renoir’s Landscapes, 1862–1883,” in Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), pp. 58, fig. 38; 59. Translated as Colin B. Bailey, “‘Un maximum de luminosité; de coloration, et d’harmonie”: Les paysages de Renoir, 1862–1883,” in Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, trans. Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), pp. 58, fig. 38; 59.

Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, eds., Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), pp. 168; 170–71, cat. 34 (ill.); 210; 214. Translated by Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer as Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), pp. 168; 170–71, cat. 34 (ill.); 210; 214.

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. 1, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 262, cat. 218 (ill.).

Robert McDonald Parker, “Topographical Chronology 1860–1883,” in Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), p. 275. Translated as Robert McDonald Parker, “Chronologie,” in Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, trans. Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), p. 275.

Peter Bürger, “Media Differences: Caillebotte and Maupassant as Storytellers,” in Anne Birgitte Fonsmark, Dorothee Hansen, and Gry Hedin, Gustave Caillebotte, exh. cat. (Hatje Cantz, 2008), pp. 24; 25, fig. 3.

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), cover (detail); pp. 20 (ill.); 64–65, cat. 23 (ill.); 73; 111. Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2008), front cover (detail); pp. 20 (ill.); 64–65, cat. 23 (ill.); 73; 111.93

Anne Distel, Renoir (Citadelles & Mazenod, 2009), pp. 118–19, ill. 101; 190; 192.

Adrien Goetz, Comment Regarder . . . Renoir (Hazan, 2009), pp. 160–61 (ill.).

John House, The Genius of Renoir: Paintings from the Clark, with an essay by James A. Ganz, exh. cat. (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute/Museo Nacional del Prado/Yale University Press, 2010), p. 59.

John House, “Catalogue 4: Luncheon (Le Déjeuner),” in Martha Lucy and John House, Renoir in the Barnes Foundation (Barnes Foundation/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 75, fig. 1.

Stefanie Manthey, “Chronology,” in Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie; The Early Years, ed. Nina Zimmer, exh. cat. (Kunstmuseum Basel/Hatje Cantz, 2012), p. 286.

Stefanie Manthey and Nina Zimmer, “Catalogue of Exhibited Works,” in Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie; The Early Years, ed. Nina Zimmer, exh. cat. (Kunstmuseum Basel/Hatje Cantz, 2012), pp. 114–15; 200–01, cat. 40 (ill.).

Christopher Lloyd, “Coastal Adventures, Riparian Pleasures: The Impressionists and Boating,” in Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Charles, and Phillip Dennis Cate, with a contribution by Giles Chardeau, Impressionists on the Water, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/Skira Rizzoli, 2013), pp. 28; 29, ill. 24.

Other Documentation

Documentation from the Durand-Ruel Archives

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel Paris 2064, Livre de stock Paris 189194

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel New York 932, Livre de stock New York 1888–9395

Other Documents

Label (fig. 2.48)96

Documentation from the Boussod, Valadon & Cie Archives

Inventory number
Stock Boussod, Valadon & Cie Paris 18877
Stock book 12, 1887–189197

Labels and Inscriptions

Pre-1980

Stamp
Location: verso of original canvas (covered by lining)
Method: stamp
Content: M_DEFORGE CARPENTIER Sr / COULEURS FINES / ET TOILES [á] PEINDRE / 6 Rue Halevy 6 / PARIS / [. . .] Rue Legendre, 62 [. . .] (fig. 2.49, fig. 2.50, fig. 2.51)98

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: handwritten script on printed label
Content: DURAND-RUEL / PARIS, 16, Rue Laffitte / NEW YORK, 315 Fifth Avenue / Renoir No. 932 / déjeuner de canotiers / Moss (fig. 2.48)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded), 1969 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script on printed label
Content: [DURA]ND-RUEL / PA[RIS], 16, Rue Laffitte / NEW-Y[ORK], 315, Fifth avenu[e] / [. . .] No. [. . .] / [. . .] Canotiers / nsss (fig. 2.52)

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded), 1969 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: [2]2.437 (fig. 2.53)

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded), 1969 photograph in conservation file99
Method: handwritten script
Content: 565 (fig. 2.54)

Stamp
Location: previous frame (removed), transcribed in curatorial file
Method: unknown
Content: 2987

Post-1980

Label
Location: [glossary:backing board]
Method: printed label
Content: THE NATIONAL GALLERY / Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN / Telephone 020 7839 3321 / Exhibition: Renoir Landscapes 1865–1881 / Venue(s): The National Gallery (London) 21/02/2007 to 20/05/2007 / National Gallery of Canada 08/06/2007 to 09/09/2007 / Philadelphia Museum of Art 30/09/2007 to 06/01/2008 / Number: X5651 Cat No: 34 / Artist: Pierre-Auguste RENOIR / Title: Luncheon at La Fournaise / Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.437 (fig. 2.55)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / artist Pierre Auguste Renoir / title The Rowers Lunch / medium oil on cavas [sic] / credit Potter Palmer Collection / acc. # 1922.437 / LZ-341-001 1M 1/90 (Rev. 1/90) (fig. 2.56)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label with handwritten script and stamp
Content: [logo] Réunion des musées nationaux Paris / THEO VAN GOGH / Musée d’Orsay / 27 septembre 1999–10 janvier 2000 / Titre de l’œuvre: Pierre Auguste Renoir, Les Canotiers / Propriétaire: Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago / No du Catalogue: 64 (fig. 2.57)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label
Content: The Phillips Collection / America’s first museum of modern art / 1600 21st Street NW Washington, D.C. 20009-1090 / Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration / of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party” / September 21, 1996–February 9, 1997 / Artist Renoir / Title The Rowers’ Lunch / Date 1875 / Medium oil on canvas / Dimensions 21 5/8 x 25 7/8 in. (55.1 × 65.9 cm) / Lender Art Institute of Chicago / Reg # 1996.53.2 Plate # 40 (fig. 2.58)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner. Scans were digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

Infrared Reflectography

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) and J filter (1.5–1.7 µm).

Transmitted Infrared

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm).

Visible Light

Natural-light, raking-light, and [glossary:transmitted-light] overalls and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-Resolution Visible Light (and Ultraviolet)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (B+W 486 UV/IR cut MRC filter).

Microscopy and Photomicrographs

Sample and cross-sectional analysis were performed using a Zeiss Axioplan 2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/[glossary:UV fluorescence] and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: [glossary:darkfield], differential interference contrast ([glossary:DIC]), and UV. In situ photomicrographs were taken with a Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with an Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

[glossary:Cross sections] were analyzed after carbon coating with a Hitachi S-3400N-II VP-SEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state [glossary:BSE] detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Automated Thread Counting

Thread count and weave information were determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.100

Image Registration Software

Overlay images were registered using a novel image-based algorithm developed by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.101

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.59).

cat. 2  Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch), 1875.

fig. 1.2

Photomicrograph of the signature in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the mixture of black and red lake pigments. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 1.1

Detail of the signature in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.20

Pretreatment image from 1971 of the verso of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the original stretcher. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 1.3

Detail of the verso of the canvas of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875), from a 1971 pretreatment image. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 1.4

Transmitted-infrared (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) image of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Carpentier canvas stamp on the verso is visible at left. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.22

Photomicrograph of the right edge of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the edge of the artist-applied ground. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.23

Photomicrograph of the background in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The tint of the ground is especially apparent when it is seen next to white paint. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.24

Detail of the background in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing an area of exposed ground and the artist’s exaggeration of the canvas texture. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.25

Infrared reflectogram (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.26

Infrared-reflectogram (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) detail of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the media used for the underdrawing. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.27

X-ray detail of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the background paint coming up to and around the currently visible female figure’s head. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437. X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

fig. 2.28

Detail of the bottom left quadrant of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). Heavy brushstrokes from the earlier figure are visible under normal viewing conditions. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.29

X-ray, raking-light, and natural-light details of the figures on the left in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437. Interactive image.

fig. 2.30

Photomicrograph of a cross section from Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the lighter blue from the earlier figure’s costume below the currently visible dark blue. Original magnification 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.31

Detail of the far left figure in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing heavy underlying brushwork where the artist painted out previous compositional choices. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.32

X-ray and natural-light details of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing changes to the figure on the right. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437. Interactive image.

fig. 2.33

Detail of the hand and arm of the figure on the right in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.34

Detail of the background in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing thick strokes of the water under the trellis and foliage. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.35

Detail of the chair on the left in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing wet-in-wet paint mixing. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.36

Detail of the foliage in the upper right of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.37

Detail of the bottles and glassware in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.38

Detail of the flowers on the trellis in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.39

Detail of the female figure’s dress in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the artist’s use of medium-rich, glaze-like paint. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.40

Detail of the background in Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the artist’s manipulation of the canvas texture. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.41

Ultraviolet image of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). Fluorescing red lakes can be seen in the female figure’s costume and in the signature and flesh tones. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.42

Pretreatment image from 1971 of the verso of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the original stretcher. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.43

Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) in its current frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.49
fig. 2.50
fig. 2.51
fig. 2.48
fig. 2.52
fig. 2.53
fig. 2.54
fig. 2.55
fig. 2.56
fig. 2.57
fig. 2.58
fig. 2.19

Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437. Interactive image.

fig. 2.5

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880–81. Oil on canvas; 130.2 × 175.6 cm (51 1/4 × 68 1/8 in.). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., acquired 1923, 1637. Bridgeman Images.

fig. 2.8

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). The Skiff (La yole), 1875. Oil on canvas; 71 × 92 cm (16 1/8 × 36 1/4 in.). The National Gallery, London, NG 6478. © National Gallery, London/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.9

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Monsieur Fournaise (Man with a Pipe), 1875. Oil on canvas; 55.9 × 47 cm (22 × 18 1/2 in.). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., 1955.55. The Bridgeman Art Library.

fig. 2.10

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). La promenade, 1870. Oil on canvas; 81 × 65 cm (32 × 25 1/2 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Digital Image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

fig. 2.11

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Bather with a Griffon Dog, 1870. Oil on canvas; 184 × 115 cm (72 7/16 × 45 5/16 in.). Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil. The Bridgeman Art Library.

fig. 2.14

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Portrait of Edmond Renoir, 1879. Oil on canvas; 32.8 × 24.5 cm (12 15/16 × 9 5/8 in.). Private collection. Courtesy of Galerie Schmit, Paris.

fig. 2.17

Detail of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (1875) showing the head of the male figure on the left. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.18

Detail of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (1875) showing the shirt of the male figure on the right. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.6

View of the Restaurant Fournaise on the island of Chatou, from the bridge, c. 1905. Black and white postcard; 9 × 14 cm (3 9/16 × 5 1/2 in.). © Musée Fournaise de Chatou, © Service des Musées de France, 2011, © Vincent de la Faille, 2009—use subject to authorization.

fig. 2.7

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). The Luncheon (Le déjeuner), 1875. Oil on canvas; 49.2 × 60 cm (19 3/8 × 23 5/8 in.). The Barnes Foundation. Image © 2014 The Barnes Foundation.

fig. 2.12

Victor Coindre (French, 19th century). Title page illustration for sheet music of Chanson des canotiers, part of the Théâtre de l'Ambigu-comique production of Les étudiants, a drama by Frédéric Soulié with music by Amédée Artus, 1845. Lithograph on paper; 29.5 × 23 cm (11 5/8 × 9 1/16 in.). Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

fig. 2.13

J. Pelcoq, “Physionomies Parisiennes. Les Canotiers (autrefois). La flottille de Bercy,” Le journal amusant, no. 943 (Sept. 25, 1874), p. 6.

fig. 2.16

J. Pelcoq, “Physionomies Parisiennes. Les Canotiers (aujourd’hui),” Le journal amusant, no. 943 (Sept. 25, 1874), p. 7. Courtesy The Getty Research Institute.

fig. 2.15

X-ray of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875). X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.47

Installation of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) in Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 17, 1997–Jan. 4, 1998. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.46

Installation of Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) in “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.45

Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) in a previous frame, installed in “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.44

Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) in a previous frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

fig. 2.21

Photomicrograph of a cross-section from Renoir’s Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875) showing the canvas and ground layer. Original magnification: 100×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.437.

Loc/Neg #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
C5699UnknownUnknownUnknownNormal, overall
Curatorial8 × 10 B&W printsUnknownUnknownNormal, overall and details: signature, figures, table, boats, trellis (12 total)
C242308 × 10 B&W negativeConservation1958Normal, overall
M727335 mm B&W negativeUnknown1959? 
S151035 mm B&W negativeUnknown1959? 
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentNov. 8, 1971Normal, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentNov. 8, 1971Infrared, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentNov. 8, 1971Ultraviolet, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentNov. 8, 1971Normal, verso
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatment1971Normal, overall
C371108 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatmentDec. 1971Normal, overall
E091878 × 10 B&W negativeUnknownJan. 20, 1986Normal, overall (also listed as E9187)
E103634 × 5 CT UnknownJune 1986Normal, detail: right figure 
E405914 × 5 CT UnknownOct. 1, 2003Normal, overall
C371108 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatmentDec. 1971Normal, overall
G28532DigitalLoan/publicationFeb. 11, 2008Normal, overall
G28353DigitalLoan/publicationFeb. 11, 2008Normal, detail: center figures
G28354 DigitalLoan/publicationFeb. 11, 2008Normal, detail: man at table 
ConservationDigitalConservationApr. 18, 2008Normal, overall, framed in old frame and new frame
132371DigitalOutgoing loanNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E40591
ConservationDigitalOSCIJune 23, 2009Detail images of verso, labels (4 total)
ConservationX-rayOSCIJune 24, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJune 26, 2009Photomicrographs of surface (11 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCIJuly 21, 2009Normal, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJuly 21, 2009Raking light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJuly 21, 2009Raking light, detail; L figures
ConservationDigitalOSCIJuly 21, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJuly 21, 2009Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISep. 30, 2009Macro details of surface (17 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCISep. 30, 2009Infrared details (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), (2 details)
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 4, 2012Infrared (Goodrich, 1.1–1.4 µm H filter), overall; composite
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 4, 2012Transmitted light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 4, 2012Transmitted infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
G39103DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Normal, overall; high-resolution composite of G39112–G39127
G39104DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Ultraviolet, overall
G39105DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Normal, frame only
G39112DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39113DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39114DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39115DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39116DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39117DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39118DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39119DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39120DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39121DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39122DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39123DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39124DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39125DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39126DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section
G39127DigitalOSCIJan. 6, 2012Section

 

fig. 2.59
 

Cat. 3

Woman at the Piano102
1875/76103
Oil on canvas; 93 × 74 cm (36 9/16 × 29 1/8 in.)
Signed: Renoir. (lower left, in warm-black paint)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1937.1025

With its elevated vantage point giving an unobstructed view of the woman’s hands on the keyboard, Woman at the Piano invites the viewer to associate the sensual act of listening with the visual harmony of the beautiful redhead wearing a luxurious, brilliantly lit peignoir.104 The woman—likely Renoir’s favorite model of the late 1870s, Nini Lopez—plays an upright piano appropriate for modest living quarters. The interior furnishings depicted in this painting are not opulent but are typical of a bourgeois home of the 1870s: an oriental carpet, subdued wall coverings in dark colors, and a fringed portiere to divide rooms. In the background on the left, a large, glazed ceramic planter with a footed base, remarkable for its iridescence, may be of chinoiserie design. Above the piano hangs a pastel or print framed in a mat, another sign of middle-class living. The bound volumes of music on top of the piano, piled together with loose, illustrated sheets that often accompanied popular tunes, hint at the pianist’s broad repertoire. As the writer Émile Zola related in his novel Nana of 1879, learning to play the piano was a common element of a middle-class French girl’s education, along with English lessons.105 The comfortable ambience of the room in Woman at the Piano places it outside Renoir’s rue Saint-Georges studio, which was described as a rectangular room furnished with old armchairs, where three walls were covered in gray wallpaper and a third was entirely glazed for maximum light.106

Sensuality and the Parisienne

Sensuality was often an aspect of Renoir’s paintings of the Parisienne—a woman dressed in the latest fashion—which were intended primarily for the enjoyment of the wealthy male viewer.107 Woman at the Piano can be considered an image of the Parisienne because the peignoir is the star of the painting, occupying most of the picture and making the canvas the equivalent of a fashion plate. The raised viewing angle opens up the foreground to accommodate the full extent of the flowing skirt. The artist made adjustments to the piano, which in overall profile appears more foreshortened in the [glossary:X-ray], suggesting that he stepped back from the subject in order to encompass the woman’s entire figure in the composition; the artist also lowered his point of view to a slightly less steep angle (fig. 2.57). Demonstrating an expressive and gestural technique, Renoir rendered the peignoir to appear as a willowy mass of brushwork over an off-white or beige underlayer painted over with white, blue, and some light green, all blended together to convey the garment’s voluminous folds (fig. 2.58). The only lines are the dark blue decorative trim. Blended blue shadow becomes more dominant toward the bottom of the peignoir, in keeping with a diminishing light source. Originally painted over a larger area, the peignoir was slimmed and the line of the woman’s lower back was adjusted to include more of the piano seat (see Application/technique and artist’s revisions in the technical report). The flattened perspective and graphic outline of the peignoir that result from Renoir’s elaborate handling recall the gowns of female saints in altarpieces of the Northern Renaissance artist Jan van Eyck.108

Comparable sensuality in an interior setting can be seen in A Girl Crocheting (fig. 2.19 [Daulte 154; Dauberville 390]).109 This painting is a genre scene with little emphasis on the fashion or urbanity present in the image of the Parisienne. The woman shares the long red hair of the figure in Woman at the Piano and might also be Nini Lopez, whom Renoir employed from 1875 to 1880 and who was known for being “punctual, serious, and discreet.”110 By showing her in A Girl Crocheting with a bared shoulder and her hair unbound and flowing down her back, Renoir introduced eroticism into an otherwise traditional genre painting—not unlike the effect he achieved with the peignoir in Woman at the Piano. With its iridescent blue vase and mantel ornaments that include a framed picture, the dark interior of A Girl Crocheting is also comparable to that in Woman at the Piano. In both works comfortable, fashionable surroundings are combined with an alluring image of femininity. Renoir heightened the sensuality of Woman at the Piano with subtle adjustments to the figure. In the X-ray the woman’s face is profil perdu (fig. 3.60). In the final placement of the figure in full profile Renoir showed her youthful features to better advantage. The X-ray also indicates that the woman’s hair was at an earlier stage gathered low at the back of her head, while in the final composition it is swept up to reveal more of her neck.

One can get a good sense of how Renoir transformed the subject of the woman at the piano into an image of the Parisienne by comparing it to a contemporary work by Frédéric Samuel Cordey, Captive Audience of 1877 (fig. 2.5).111 In this painting the instrument is also placed in the corner of a room decorated with wallpaper and framed pictures; however, both the plain design of the pianist’s day dress and the meditative pose of her companion place this scene some distance from the sensual retreat of Renoir’s painting. The dull wall color, uniform ambient lighting, and mundane furnishings of Cordey’s interior are pedestrian and undistinguished compared to the elegance and visual appeal displayed in Woman at the Piano.112

A New Direction for Renoir’s Genre Painting

While the emphasis on fashion and femininity in Woman at the Piano marks it as a representation of the Parisienne, the depiction of a woman playing the piano alone in an interior setting defines it as a genre painting or a view of everyday life. The theme of young women at the piano was one that Renoir would make his own in the 1890s, when the French State acquired Young Girls at the Piano (fig. 2.8 [Dauberville 993]), the first work by the artist to enter the collection of contemporary art housed in the Musée du Luxembourg, the occasion that marks the beginning of the artist’s official recognition.113 Such a significant career milestone makes Woman at the Piano all the more compelling, as it is the artist’s first treatment of a piano-playing subject.114 It was his only example of the theme until 1888, when he painted the portrait commission The Daughters of Catulle Mendès (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [Daulte 545; Dauberville 966]).115

Renoir seems to have come late to the theme of the woman at the piano compared to his Impressionist colleagues.116 Certainly there was a commercial necessity to expand the range of his successful Parisienne images and genre repertoire. Alternatively it could be argued that his growing social circle of poets and musicians in the mid-1870s may have alerted him to the broader context in which painting, music, and the arts coexisted. What kinds of tunes are shown in the stack of music in Woman at the Piano: popular operettas, classical sonatas, works by German composer Richard Wagner?117 The relative merits of these musical styles would have been as passionate a point of discussion as painting technique and color for many of Renoir’s friends in the 1870s. In his biography of Renoir, Georges Rivière devoted an entire chapter to Ernest Cabaner, a pianist and early supporter of the Impressionists who lived in Montmartre on the rue de Clichy until his death in 1881.118 Renoir’s inner circle also included gifted pianists Edmond Maître and Emmanuel Chabrier. In the larger salons, where dozens of socialites would gather for gossip and conversation, music had a substantial role in the entertainment of guests. Renoir’s caricature of the novelist Alphonse Daudet at the piano wearing an evening jacket (fig. 2.9) suggests a command performance at one of these events.119 The more intimate surroundings in Woman at the Piano evoke the idea of an active listening experience on the part of the viewer. It is a painting addressed to a client drawn to the fashionably dressed Parisienne, yet one who may also have supported progressive music as openly as progressive art.

Woman at the Piano at the Second Impressionist Exhibition

It is fairly certain that Woman at the Piano was the work exhibited at the second Impressionist exhibition in April 1876 as Femme au piano, since it is the only work of that title dating from the 1870s.120 Renoir submitted eighteen works to the exhibition, including Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch) (1875; cat. 2). This work received only a brief mention by the critics, and Woman at the Piano was passed over completely. Much of the commentary about Renoir’s work focused on his controversial female torso, titled Étude (fig. 2.10 [Daulte 201; Dauberville 603]).121 Art critics more comfortable with the academic nude in historic or mythological contexts found Renoir’s provocative play of light and shadow on human flesh in a garden setting deeply disturbing. The powerful and influential critic of Le figaro, Albert Wolff, compared the nude to a mass of decomposing flesh.122 Woman at the Piano is equally innovative in its lighting of the figure. The brilliant whites of the flowing peignoir and the woman’s glowing flesh tones visible through the sheer fabric of her sleeve suggest conditions of bright sunlight seemingly at odds with the somber tones of the apartment’s interior. Direct sunlight from a window would presumably cast distinct shadows, but no such shadows are apparent.

One of the few positive comments about Renoir’s work at the 1876 exhibition came from Zola, who had been a supporter of the Impressionists for a decade. Zola’s review was sympathetic: “M. Renoir is above all a figure painter. He favors a blonde palette of colors that lighten and blend with an admirable harmony. One would say these are works by Rubens lit by the strongest sunlight of Velázquez.”123 While Zola did not mention Woman at the Piano, his review nevertheless raises the question of Renoir’s engagement with the Old Masters in 1875–76 and how these sources might have played a role in the inspiration for the painting. The theme of the woman at the piano can be traced to seventeenth-century Dutch artists such as Gabriel Metsu, whose Lady at the Virginals (1662; Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris) was reproduced in Charles Blanc’s Histoire de peintres de toutes les écoles: École hollandaise in 1862. Another Dutch work, Johannes Vermeer’s A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal (fig. 2.11), appeared in an exhibition of Old Master paintings from private collections held in Paris in 1866.124 Vermeer’s work had not been previously seen in a Paris exhibition and was just beginning to be understood by French art historians.125 In 1870 the Louvre acquired its first painting by Vermeer, The Lace Maker of 1669/70, which later became a highlight of Renoir’s visits to the museum.126 While it is uncertain how familiar Renoir would have been with Vermeer’s work in the mid-1870s, Woman at the Piano succeeds magnificently in updating the traditional paradigm of painting’s relationship to music by merging Impressionist concerns with color and light with references to history, tradition, and the attentive listener.
John Collins

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir began with a [glossary:commercially primed] [glossary:canvas] and roughly separated broad areas of the compositional space with thin layers of opaque paint; a thin, dark-red [glossary:wash] was used to define the piano on the right. This dark red extends past the apparent [glossary:foldover] edge and may indicate that the artist began his composition on an unstretched canvas or on a canvas on a slightly larger, nonstandard [glossary:stretcher] that he later moved to a smaller stretcher. With a relatively limited [glossary:palette], Renoir created textural differences by manipulating the paint in many ways, including thin washes, scraping, thick [glossary:impasto], [glossary:wet-in-wet] [glossary:modeling], and dragging a stiff brush across wet paint. [glossary:X-radiography] indicates compositional changes to both the figure and the piano. Renoir established the initial forms of these elements and brought the background in around them before making subsequent changes to the composition. He altered the figure’s pose—originally in profile, in the final composition she is turned slightly toward the viewer—as well as her dress and hairstyle. After executing the figure in her initial form, Renoir slimmed her overall silhouette and greatly diminished the volume of her skirt. Her hair was altered from a simple, downswept roll to an upswept style with added volume at the crown. The piano was widened, perhaps painted from a different perspective. Initially the overall profile of the piano was more foreshortened, projecting farther into space; however, the top of the piano was slightly less foreshortened, signaling a change in vantage not only farther to the left with respect to the subject, but perhaps also slightly lower. Once the figure and the piano were executed in their final forms, the artist smoothed the transition between figure and ground with a combination of wet-in-wet modeling and working thin, translucent layers over dry paint.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 1.2).127

Signature

Signed: Renoir. (lower left, in warm-black paint) (fig. 1.1, fig. 2.20).128

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).129

Standard format

Measuring from a ridge around the perimeter that appears to be a flattened foldover, the original dimensions appear to be approximately 91.5 × 73 cm; cusping visible in the [glossary:X-ray] corresponds to tack placement for this size. This most likely corresponds to a no. 30 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size (92 × 73 cm) canvas.130

Determining the original size of the canvas is complicated by many factors, as the dimensions may have been changed by the artist and the original foldover edge does not appear to be a straight line. Additional canvas was left exposed around the perimeter when the painting was lined, and during the same treatment it was mounted slightly askew.131

Aspects of the painting’s construction suggest that Renoir may have changed the size of the canvas himself after beginning his composition off the stretcher or stretched to a larger secondary support. The work features uneven edges on all sides, the straightest of which appears to be the left. Folding the painting at the apparent foldover on the right would also make it correspond to a no. 30 portrait (figure) standard-size canvas; some sense of the original dimensions and the nature of the original edges are more apparent in clean-state photos from the 1972 treatment (fig. 1.3). The artist appears to have lined up the painting for stretching on a standard stretcher by the left side, folding over a small portion of the scraped-back, dark-red piano paint (fig. 1.4). After numerous compositional changes, small margins of background paint on the lower left and upper right were likely added by Renoir to square the composition to fit a standard size.

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 22.4V (0.8) × 26.1H (0.5) threads/cm. The horizontal threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the vertical threads to the [glossary:weft].132

Canvas characteristics

The canvas has mild [glossary:cusping] on the top, bottom, and left edges, corresponding to the placement of the original tacks. On the right, cusping corresponds to the inner set of tack holes (visible along the foldover edge) rather than to the secondary set of tack holes on the current tacking margin (fig. 2.28). There is a double thread fault on the lower left (fig. 2.18).

Stretching

Current stretching: When the painting was lined in 1937, it was placed slightly askew, and the original dimensions were increased on all sides by up to 1 cm. It is possible that the right margin was also extended as part of this treatment (see Conservation History).133

Original stretching: Based on cusping visible in the X-ray, the original tacks were placed approximately 3.5–7 cm apart.

Stretcher/strainer

Current stretcher: Five-member keyable stretcher with a horizontal [glossary:crossbar]. This stretcher is not believed to be original to the painting and probably dates from the 1937 treatment (see Conservation History).

Original stretcher: Unknown.

Manufacturer’s/supplier’s marks

No manufacturer’s or supplier’s marks were observed during the current examination or documented in previous examinations.

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

[glossary:Cross-sectional analysis] indicates a thin, brownish layer of material between the canvas and the [glossary:ground] that closely follows the canvas texture. This material is organic, based on its characteristic bluish [glossary:fluorescence] in UV light, and is estimated to be glue (fig. 2.22).134

Ground application/texture

There is a smooth, single-layer, commercially applied ground, approximately 10–40 µm thick, that extends to the edges of the [glossary:tacking margins] (fig. 2.23).

Color

The ground appears to be warm white, with dark particles visible under [glossary:stereomicroscopic examination] (fig. 2.24). Small percentages of black and iron oxide yellow and red were found in cross-sectional analysis and contribute to this warm appearance. This layer is porous and has darkened over time due to the combined effects of accumulated grime and saturation by the [glossary:wax-resin lining] material (see Conservation History and Condition Summary).

Materials/composition

The ground is predominantly lead white, with small amounts of calcium-based white, iron oxide yellow and red (and associated silicates), and traces of bone black, complex silicates, and barium sulfate extenders.135 The [glossary:binder] is estimated to be [glossary:oil].136

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch
Extent/character

No [glossary:underdrawing] was observed with [glossary:infrared reflectography] or under stereomicroscopic examination.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

Renoir began the painting by laying in localized colors, some in opaque layers, and loosely defining various areas of the composition. On the upper left and across much of the top, a bright-white underlayer serves to visually brighten the top half of the painting (fig. 2.25). Underneath the figure and foreground, however, the underlayers appear thick and beige, a color very similar to that of the ground. It is unclear whether this beige layer was intended to function like the white in the top half of the composition or was used to cover previous compositional choices in certain areas. Comparatively wide strokes (up to 3 cm wide) of this warm beige are seen in raking-light and X-ray images throughout the left foreground rug, on either side of the dress (fig. 2.26).

On the right, the artist used a dark-red wash for the piano that extends past the apparent original foldover edge.137 The paint along this edge is very thin, appears scraped back and abraded, and includes only the lower layers of paint and none of the upper details of the gold ornament on the side of the piano or the music books on top of the piano.138 It is possible that Renoir began the work off the stretcher or on a larger, nonstandard stretcher and later shortened it to correspond to a standard-size stretcher. The paint layers present on the far right edge suggest that this change was made before the upper layers of the piano were added. The artist scraped back the paint along the right side and may have changed the size of the work before changing the angle of the piano and adding details such as the gold decorative ornament and the sheet music (fig. 2.27). Once the work was stretched, he “squared” the composition on the upper right and lower left with additional background paint. As these areas lack the previously mentioned opaque underpaints that define their surroundings, they appear quite different in color and texture than the rest of the canvas, but they do appear to be original.

Renoir made substantial changes to both the figure and the piano in this composition. The X-ray indicates that the piano originally appeared thinner and taller. The top of the piano was painted from a slightly downward perspective, with more of the surface visible and featuring additional sheet music and a curved decorative element. The top now appears more foreshortened, and the overall profile of the piano is wider and angled more toward the viewer (fig. 2.28). The sheet music just above the keyboard appears longer and curved in the X-ray, possibly indicating turning or buckling pages, and a [glossary:radio-opaque] form just under the music suggests that a music ledge was articulated at this stage. The X-ray also suggests that the artist raised the position of the candlesticks and altered the curve along the side and legs of the piano in the foreground.

Renoir made numerous changes to the figure’s hairstyle, dress, and profile. Originally her hair, swept down smoothly along the side of her head, was tucked back in a simple roll. Brushstrokes in the hair indicate that the artist simply layered thin strokes in a different direction over the previous arrangement to suggest a more upswept style with added volume at the crown (fig. 2.29). Traction cracking in this area resulted from the thinness of these layers compared to the heavier paint underneath, a trait also visible in [glossary:raking light]. In the X-ray, the figure’s dress appears more voluminous, bowing out around the knees and coming in atop a larger ruffled bottom. The skirt seems to bend in on itself, and the piano seat is almost entirely hidden by it. A [glossary:radio-transparent] band along this inward fold of the skirt indicates that it was originally higher than it appears in the visible composition. In the final arrangement, Renoir reduced the volume of the skirt on both sides of the piano seat, revealing more of the seat and cushion and giving definition to the bottom half of the figure. The artist slimmed her overall silhouette, straightened her neck, and brought up her neck and chin slightly to suggest a more upright posture. The figure appears in full profile, with her head angled more toward the viewer. To accomplish this, Renoir moved her forehead, chin, eyes, and hairline slightly to the left with respect to her nose (fig. 2.30). A visible buildup of the paint in the flesh tones, where the artist subtly altered the head, can be seen in raking light. The figure’s arms remain in the same position in the X-ray and the final composition, but her left hand was moved farther back in space, and paint revealed by cracking in this area indicates that the ruffle at the cuff of her sleeve was probably extended after the wrist was executed (fig. 2.31). Similar cracks also reveal that the artist added flesh tones over the white of the sleeve to create the illusion of a translucent garment.

Renoir established both the female figure and the piano before bringing in the background. In the X-ray, heavy strokes of background paint come up to and around these elements; this is especially noticeable around the figure’s head, where a kind of radio-opaque halo is visible. After the artist settled on the final composition, he softened the transition between figure and ground with additional background paint applied either wet-in-wet or in thin, translucent layers over dry paint.

Renoir’s paint application varies in thickness and texture, from washes and areas scraped with a palette knife, to heavy impasto and visible brushwork (fig. 2.32). The artist mixed many hues directly on the surface of the painting, working wet-in-wet to varying degrees to produce smooth blending, as seen in the figure’s dress and flesh (fig. 2.33). In some areas, short strokes of color or highlights pick up a small amount of the surrounding paint, as on the vase on the left (fig. 2.34). To create the illusion of individual strands of hair framing the figure’s face, Renoir dragged a stiff brush across wet paint, allowing the bristles to cut through and reveal the light underpaint (fig. 2.35). The artist also added details in very dry paint, dragging his brush across the surface, as in the foliage, highlights on the candlesticks, parts of the vase, and upper details of the foreground rug (fig. 2.36).

Painting tools

Soft- and stiff-bristle brushes (strokes up to 1 cm wide); [glossary:palette knife] for scraping; possible wider brushes (strokes about 3 cm wide) used in the foreground underlayers.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following [glossary:pigments]:139 lead white, zinc white, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, emerald green, viridian, chrome yellow, zinc yellow, bone black, vermilion, madder lake, carmine lake,140 iron oxide red, and red lead.

Analysis suggests that the paint mixtures vary in their complexity, with some simpler mixtures of two or three pigments and other more complex combinations. The flesh tones, for example, contain lead white, vermilion, and red lake.141 The dark-blue ribbon running through the lower portion of the figure’s dress, however, is more complex; in addition to cobalt blue, there is some cerulean blue and chrome yellow, with traces of bone black, zinc yellow, and possibly red lake. The observation of a characteristic bright orange fluorescence under UV light indicates that the artist used a fluorescing red lake in the flesh tones, parts of the front of the piano, and the figure’s hair (fig. 2.37).142 It is likely that Renoir used a different red lake for the main body of the piano. Cross-sectional analysis of a sample from the piano indicates that the artist mixed both lakes; in UV light, the fluorescing and nonfluorescing red lakes are visible side by side (fig. 2.38).143

Binding media

Oil (estimated).144

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

The current [glossary:synthetic varnish] was applied in 1972, replacing a natural-resin [glossary:varnish]. It is unclear whether the natural-resin varnish dates from the 1937 lining or from a proposed 1940 treatment (see Conservation History).

Conservation History

The painting was treated by Chicago private conservator Leo Marzolo just before it was acquired by the Art Institute in 1937.145 Treatment at this time included wax-resin lining to a secondary canvas and mounting the lined canvas onto Masonite before restretching the entire structure on a five-member keyable stretcher.146 The painting was minimally scratched in transit in 1940 and repaired in November of the same year by Marzolo.147 The examination report for this treatment confirmed that the work was already wax-resin lined, “then placed onto Masonite.” This record also indicated dissatisfaction with the surface coating and recommended removing the excess wax and replacing it with a wax-damar-mastic mixture. As there is no further documentation, both the specific nature of the previous coating and whether this treatment was completed remain unclear.

The work was superficially treated in 1969, including grime removal with detergent water, thinning of the surface coating, toning of discolored [glossary:retouching], and resaturation of the surface with three coats of synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA).148 The painting was treated again in 1972 in preparation for exhibition.149 An aged natural-resin varnish and extensive retouching along the edges were removed, along with the 1969 synthetic varnish system, at this time with a combination of solvent and mechanical cleaning. The painting was again given a three-layer varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA) and retouched. Heavy retouching along the edges compensates for the slightly skewed lining and the abraded paint along the right edge.

Condition Summary

The painting is in good condition, planar and with few losses. It is wax-resin lined to a secondary canvas and is secure. A piece of Masonite was inserted between the lined painting and the restoration stretcher, but it is unclear at this time whether the Masonite panel is attached to the painting with adhesive or held in place by the pressure of the stretching. The overall flatness and planarity of the painting and increased textural presence of the weave are the result of the lining process. The original tacking margins were flattened during the lining process, making the original dimensions somewhat unclear and causing abrasion and minor losses around the perimeter. The work was stretched slightly askew and has been retouched along the left edge near the bottom, the bottom edge on the right, parts of the upper edge, and the entire right side to compensate. Cracking appears to be limited to the figure’s dress, along the arms and shoulders and at the knee, and along areas of dark blue, including the ribbon detail and the shadowed piano seat. The work is slightly saturated by a combination of lining material and a somewhat glossy synthetic varnish.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

Current frame (installed 2008): The frame is not original to the painting. It is a French (Parisian), late-seventeenth-century, Louis XIV convex frame with alternating acanthus leaves, scrolls, and flowers on a hazzled bed with ribbon-and-leaf sight molding. The frame has water gilding over red and red brown bole on gesso. The ornament and sight moldings are selectively burnished; all other gilding is matte. The frame retains its original gilding and glue [glossary:sizing]. The carved oak molding is mitered and joined with angled, dovetailed splines. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is ovolo with flowers outer molding; scotia side; convex face with alternating acanthus leaves, scrolls, and flowers on a hazzled, recut bed; cove frieze; and torus with ribbon-and-leaf sight molding (fig. 2.39).150

Previous frame (installed sometime after 1937, removed 2008): The painting was previously housed in an American, twentieth-century, Louis XVI reproduction, fluted scotia frame with corner acanthus leaves, made of carved basswood with a distressed gilt finish (fig. 2.40).

Previous frame (installed prior to or upon the 1911 purchase by the Ryerson family; removed after 1937): The work was previously housed in a late-nineteenth-century, Louis XIV Revival, reverse ogee frame with straight sides and projecting cast plaster fleur-de-lis corner cartouches connected by a symmetrical rhythm of scroll-linked fleurs-de-lis on a quadrillage bed. The frame had an outer leaf-tip and inner linked-bellflower molding with cove sight edge, and an independent fillet liner with cove sight edge (fig. 2.41, fig. 2.17).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Acquired by Paul-Victor Poupin, Paris, by Apr. 1876.151

Possibly acquired by Durand-Ruel, Paris, by Apr. 1883.152

Sold (possibly by Renoir) to Durand-Ruel, Paris, Sept. 8, 1886, for 1,200 francs.153

Possibly sold at Moore’s Art Galleries, New York, May 6, 1887, lot 93, for $675.154

Acquired by Durand-Ruel, New York, by Dec. 16, 1911.155

Sold by Durand-Ruel, New York, to Martin A. Ryerson, Chicago, Dec. 16, 1911, for $16,000.156

By descent from Martin A. Ryerson (died 1932), to his wife, Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson, Chicago.157

Bequeathed by Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson (died 1937), to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.

Exhibition History

Paris, 11, rue Le Peletier, 2e exposition de peinture [second Impressionist exhibition], Apr. 1876, cat. 219, as Femme au Piano. Appartient à M. Poupin.158

Possibly London, Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell, Paintings, Drawings and Pastels by Members of “La société des impressionnistes,” Apr.–July 1883, cat. 13, as Femme au piano.159

New York, Durand-Ruel, Exhibition of Paintings by Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir, Apr. 1900, cat. 39, as Jeune Femme au Piano.160

New York, Durand-Ruel, Exhibition of Paintings by Pierre Auguste Renoir, Nov. 14–Dec. 5, 1908, cat. 5, as Jeune femme au piano, 1878.161

New York, Durand-Ruel, 1911.162

Possibly New York, Durand-Ruel, Exhibition of Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 14–Mar. 16, 1912, cat. 19, as Fillette en robe bleue.163

Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, Some Modern Primitives: International Exhibition of Paintings and Prints, Summer 1931, July 2–Aug. 16, 1931, cat. 73.164

Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, Commemorative Exhibition from the Martin A. Ryerson Collection, Oct. 9–30, 1932, cat. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933, cat. 337 (ill.).165 (fig. 2.56)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Museum of Art, Manet and Renoir, Nov. 29, 1933–Jan. 1, 1934, no cat. no.166

Art Institute of Chicago, “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture for 1934, June 1–Oct. 31, 1934, cat. 226.167

Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Nov. 1934, cat. 16.168

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings, May 18–Sept. 12, 1937, cat. 27 (ill.).

Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Nov. 7–Dec. 12, 1937, cat. 24 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Special Exhibition of the Ryerson Bequest: Paintings, Oriental and Decorative Arts, Jan. 26–31, 1938, no cat.169

San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts, Golden Gate International Exposition, May 25–Sept. 29, 1940, cat. 292 (ill.).170

San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery, Special Loans of Old Masters and Contemporary Paintings from the San Francisco Exposition and Los Angeles County Fair, Oct. 12–Nov. 2, 1940, no cat.171

New York, Duveen Galleries, Renoir: Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841–1941; For the Benefit of the Free French Relief Committee, Nov. 8–Dec. 6, 1941, cat. 14 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 20 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein, Renoir: The Gentle Rebel; A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children, Oct. 24–Nov. 30, 1974, cat. 10 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Art at the Time of the Centennial, June 19–Aug. 8, 1976, no cat.172

Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art, Exposition Renoir, Sept. 26–Nov. 6, 1979, cat. 16 (ill.); Kyoto Municipal Museum, Nov. 10–Dec. 9, 1979.

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27–Aug. 31, 1980, cat. 19 (ill.).

London, Hayward Gallery, Renoir, Jan. 30–Apr. 21, 1985, cat. 35 (ill.); Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, May 14–Sept. 2, 1985, cat. 34 (ill.); Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Oct. 9, 1985–Jan. 5, 1986.

Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), State Hermitage Museum, Ot Delakrua do Matissa: Shedevry frantsuzskoĭ zhivopisi XIX–nachala XX veka, iz Muzeia Metropoliten v N’iu-Iorke i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta v Chikago [From Delacroix to Matisse: Great masterpieces of French painting of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago], Mar. 15–May 16, 1988, cat. 20 (ill.); Moscow, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, May 30–July 30, 1988.

Nagaoka, Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Shikago bijutsukan ten: Kindai kaiga no 100-nen [Masterworks of modern art from the Art Institute of Chicago], Apr. 20–May 29, 1994, cat. 6 (ill.); Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, June 10–July 24, 1994; Yokohama Museum of Art, Aug. 6–Sept. 25, 1994.

Atlanta, High Museum of Art, Rings: Five Passions in World Art, July 4–Sept. 29, 1996, no cat. no.173

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 24 (ill.).

Musée d’Orsay, Paris, L’impressionnisme et la mode, Sept. 25, 2012–Jan. 20, 2013, cat. 100; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Feb. 26–May 27, 2013, cat. 55, as Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity; Art Institute of Chicago, June 26–Sept. 29, 2013.174


Selected References

Catalogue de la 2e exposition de peinture, exh. cat. (Alcan-Lévy, 1876), p. 21, cat. 219.175

Possibly Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell/Société des Impressionnistes, Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Pastels by Members of “La société des impressionnistes,” exh. cat. (Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell, 1883), p. 9, cat. 13.176

Possibly unsigned review of Paintings, Drawings and Pastels by Members of “La société des impressionnistes,” Standard, Apr. 25, 1883, p. 2.177

“Good Prices Realized. Close of the Durand-Ruel Sale of Paintings,” New York Times, May 7, 1887, p. 5.178

Durand-Ruel, New York, Exhibition of Paintings by Claude Monet and Pierre Auguste Renoir, exh. cat. (Durand-Ruel, 1900), no. 39.179

“Art Notes and News,” New York Times, Apr. 8, 1900, p. 9.

Durand-Ruel, New York, Exhibition of Paintings by Pierre Auguste Renoir, exh. cat. (Durand-Ruel, 1908), no. 5.180

Possibly Durand-Ruel, New York, Exhibition of Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Durand-Ruel, 1912), cat. 19.181

“Renoir at Durand-Ruel’s,” American Art News 10, 19 (Feb. 17, 1912), pp. 2, 9 (ill.).

Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, Some Modern Primitives: International Exhibition of Paintings and Prints, Summer 1931, exh. cat. (Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, 1931), cat. 73.

Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago Bulletin (Spring and Summer 1931), p. 33 (ill.).

Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, Commemorative Exhibition from the Martin A. Ryerson Collection, exh. cat. (Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, 1932), cat. 18.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture; Lent from American Collections, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1933), p. 48, cat. 337; pl. 56/cat. 337.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Century of Progress Exhibition of the Fine Arts,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27, 4 (Apr.–May 1933), p. 67.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Rearrangement of the Paintings Galleries,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27, 7 (Dec. 1933), p. 115.

Pennsylvania Museum of Art, “Manet and Renoir,” Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin 29, 158 (Dec. 1933), p. 19.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1934, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1934), p. 38, cat. 226.

Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, exh. cat. (Toledo Museum of Art, 1934), cat. 16.

Albert C. Barnes and Violette de Mazia, The Art of Renoir (Minton, Balch, 1935), pp. 261, no. 97 (ill.); 401, no. 97; 451.

Henry McBride, “The Renoirs of America: An Appreciation of the Metropolitan Museum’s Exhibition,” Art News 35, 31 (May 1, 1937), p. 158.

Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, exh. cat. (Toledo Museum of Art, 1937), cat. 24 (ill.).

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings, exh. cat. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bradford, 1937), no. 27 (ill.).

Josephine L. Allen, “Paintings by Renoir,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 32, 5 (May 1937), p. 112.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Annual Report of the Director,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago Report for the Year Nineteen Hundred Thirty-Seven 32, 3, pt. 3 (Mar. 1938), p. 46.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Exhibition of the Ryerson Gift,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 32, 1 (Jan. 1938), front cover (ill.), p. 4.

Josephine L. Allen, “The Entire Ryerson Collection Goes to the Chicago Art Institute,” Art News 36, 21 (Feb. 19, 1938), pp. 10 (ill.), 11.

Lionello Venturi, Les archives de l’impressionnisme: Lettres de Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, et autres; Mémoires de Paul Durand-Ruel; Documents, vol. 2 (Durand-Ruel, 1939), p. 258.

Alfred M. Frankfurter, “Master Paintings and Drawings of Six Centuries at the Golden Gate,” Art News 38, 38 (July 13, 1940), pp. 11 (ill.), 14.

Julia G. Andrews, “Rare Paintings Displayed,” San Diego Union, Oct. 13, 1940, p. 7C.

Golden Gate International Exposition, Art, Official Catalog, exh. cat. (Recorder/H. S. Crocker/Schwabacher-Frey, 1940), pp. 20, cat. 292; 66, cat. 292 (ill.).

Reginald Howard Wilenski, Modern French Painters (Reynal & Hitchcook, [1940]), p. 337.182

Duveen Galleries, Renoir: Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841–1941; For the Benefit of the Free French Relief Committee (Vilmorin/Bradford, 1941), pp. 36, cat. 14 (ill.); 123–124, cat. 14.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The United States Now an Art Publishing Center,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 36, 2 (Feb. 1942), p. 30.

“Chicago Perfects Its Renoir Group,” Art News 44, 16, pt. 1 (Dec. 1–14, 1945), p. 18.

Bruno F. Schneider, Renoir (Safari, [1957]), pp. 24, 26 (ill.). Translated into English by Desmond and Camille Clayton as Renoir (Crown, 1978), pp. 26 (ill.), 34.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces in the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1952), (ill.).

Charles Fabens Kelley, “Chicago: Record Years,” Art News 51, 4 (June–Aug. 1952), p. 107.

Dorothy Bridaham, Renoir in the Art Institute of Chicago (Conzett & Huber, 1954), pl. 1.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), pp. 277 (ill.), 394.183

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84, 55 (Sept. 1966), pp. 200, fig. 28; 202.

Charles C. Cunningham, Instituto de arte de Chicago, El mundo de los museos 2 (Editorial Codex, 1967), pp. 11, ill. 32; 58, ill. 2.

André Parinaud and Charles C. Cunningham, Art Institute of Chicago, Grands musées 2 (Hachette-Filipacchi, 1969), pp. 36, fig. 2; 69, no. 32.

Charles C. Cunningham and Satoshi Takahashi, Shikago bijutsukan [Art Institute of Chicago], Museums of the World 32 (Kodansha, 1970), pp. 50, pl. 36; 159.

John Maxon, The Art Institute of Chicago (Abrams, 1970), p. 84 (ill.).184

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 1, Figures, 1860–1890 (Durand-Ruel, 1971), pp. 170–71, cat. 187 (ill.).

Elda Fezzi, L’opera completa di Renoir: Nel periodo impressionista, 1869–1883, Classici dell’arte 59 (Rizzoli, 1972), p. 99, cat. 232 (ill.).185

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 26; 68–69, cat. 20 (ill.); 74; 138; 210; 211; 214.

Wildenstein, Renoir: The Gentle Rebel; A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the Association for Mentally Ill Children, with a foreword by François Daulte, exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 1974), cat. 10 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, 100 Masterpieces (Art Institute of Chicago, 1978), pp. 22; 98–99, pl. 55.

Patricia Erens, Masterpieces: Famous Chicagoans and Their Paintings (Chicago Review, 1979), p. 36.

J. Patrice Marandel, The Art Institute of Chicago: Favorite Impressionist Paintings (Crown, 1979), pp. 68–69 (ill.).

Isetan Museum of Art and Kyoto Municipal Museum, Exposition Renoir, exh. cat. (Isetan Museum of Art/Kyoto Municipal Museum/Yomiuri Shimbun Sha, 1979), cat. 16 (ill.).

Charles F. Stuckey, with the assistance of Naomi E. Maurer, Toulouse-Lautrec: Paintings, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, [1979]), p. 158, fig. 2 (ill.).

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism (Abbeville, 1980), pp. 259 (ill.), 438.186

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism, Tiny Folios (Abbeville, 1980), p. 156, pl. 16.

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and Art Institute of Chicago, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, exh. cat. (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, 1980), pp. 38, no. 19 (ill.); 68.

Possibly Kate Flint, ed., Impressionists in England: The Critical Reception (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), pp. 58, 361.187

Anne Distel, “Renoir’s Collector: The Pâtissier, the Priest and the Prince,” in Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1985), p. 27, n. 22.

Anne Distel, “Les amateurs de Renoir: Le prince, le prêtre et le pâtissier,” in Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1985), p. 32, n. 22.

Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Arts Council of Great Britain, 1985), pp. 80, cat. 35 (ill.); 208, cat. 35 (ill.); 256.

Hayward Gallery, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Renoir, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1985), pp. 136–137, cat. 34 (ill.).

Denys Sutton, “Renoir’s Kingdom,” Apollo 121, 278 (Apr. 1985), pp. 244; 245, pl. 10.

Charles S. Moffett, ed., with the assistance of Ruth Berson, Barbara Lee Williams, and Fronia E. Wissman, The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986), pp. 164.

Phillippe Ariès and Georges Duby, eds., Histoire de la vie privée: De la Révolution à la Grande Guerre, vol. 4 (Éd. du Seuil, 1987), p. 487 (ill.). Translated by Arthur Goldhammer as A History of Private Life: From the Fires of Revolution to the Great War, vol. 4 (Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 1990), p. 532 (ill.).

Richard R. Brettell, French Impressionists (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1987), pp. 31, 33 (ill.), 119.

Horst Keller, Auguste Renoir (Bruckmann, 1987), pp. 56, fig. 41; 165.

Ministry of Culture; State Hermitage Museum; Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and Art Institute of Chicago, Ot Delakrua do Matissa: Shedevry frantsuzskoi zhivopisi XIX–nachala XX veka, iz Muzeia Metropoliten v N’iu-Iorke i Khudozhestvennogo Instituta v Chikago [From Delacroix to Matisse: Masterpieces of French painting of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Art Institute of Chicago], trans. from English by Iu. A. Kleiner and A. A. Zhukov, exh. cat. (Avrora, 1988), cat. 20.

Robert Trachtenberg, “Great Art Where You Least Expect It: The Pioneers of Hollywood Art Colleting,” Spy (Sept. 1988), pp. 97–98.

Art Institute of Chicago, Master Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood and Katharine C. Lee (Art Institute of Chicago/New York Graphic Society Books/Little, Brown, 1988), pp. 9, 56 (ill.).

Birger Carlström, Hide-and-Seek: Text and Picture in the Pictures; Impressionists from Turner from [sicGainsborough (Carlström, 1989), pp. 42; 164, pl. 36; 165, pl. 36.

Raffaele De Grada, Renoir (Giorgio Mondadori, 1989), p. 48, pl. 27.

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989), pp. 64–65, fig. 3.

Violette de Mazia, “Form and Matter: The Form of Renoir’s Color,” Vistas (V.O.L.N./Barnes Foundation) 5, 2 (1991), pp. 15; pl. 38.

M. Therese Southgate, “The Cover,” JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association 270, 18 (Nov. 10, 1993), front cover (ill.), p. 2145.

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago, with an introduction by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1993), p. 56 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago and Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art, Shikago bijutsukan ten: Kindai kaiga no 100-nen [Masterworks of modern art from the Art Institute of Chicago], exh. cat. (Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994), pp. 50–51, cat. 6 (ill.).

Anne Distel, Douglas Druick, Gloria Groom, and Rodolphe Rapetti, Gustave Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Musée d’Orsay/Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1995), p. 193, fig. 1. Translated into French by Jeanne Bouniort as Gustave Caillebotte: 1848–1894, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1994), p. 231, fig. 1.

Gerhard Gruitrooy, Renoir: A Master of Impressionism (Todtri, 1994), p. 29 (ill.).

Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 2, Exhibited Works (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), pp. 44, 63 (ill.).

Michael Shapiro, ed., Rings: Five Passions in World Art, exh. cat. (High Museum of Art/Abrams, 1996), pp. 298–99 (ill.).

Karin Sagner-Düchting, Renoir: Paris and the Belle Époque, trans. Fiona Elliott (Prestel, 1996), p. 72 (ill.).

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 6; 15 (detail); 28; 30; 46; 84, pl. 3; 109.

Charlotte Nalle Eyerman, “The Composition of Femininity: The Significance of the ‘Woman at the Piano’ Motif in Nineteenth-Century French Culture from Daumier to Renoir” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1997), pp. 143; 245, fig. 58.

James Elkins, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles? On the Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity (Routledge, 1999), opp. p. 1, pl. 1; pp. xviii; 1; 4; 5, pl. 3; 8–9; 49; 78; 228.

Renaud Temperini, “Estetiche della modernità,” in La pittura Francese, vol. 3, ed. Pierre Rosenberg, trans. Cosima Campagnolo, Valentina Palombi, and Stefano Salpietro (Electra, 1999), pp. 816, fig. 832; 818.188

Art Institute of Chicago, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills, 2000), pp. 9, 52 (ill.).

Patrick Shaw Cable, “Questions of Work, Class, Gender, and Style in the Art and Life of Gustave Caillebotte” (Ph.D. diss., Case Western Reserve University, 2000), pp. 47; 258, fig. 15.

Bridgestone Museum of Art and Nagoya City Art Museum, Renoir: From Outsider to Old Master, 1870–1892, exh. cat. (Bridgestone Museum of Art/Nagoya City Art Museum/Chunichi Shimbun, 2001), p. 84, fig. 40.

Gilles Néret, Renoir: Painter of Happiness, 1841–1919, trans. Josephine Bacon (Taschen, 2001), pp. 84–85 (ill); 110.

Michael Marrinan, “Caillebotte as Professional Painter: From Studio to the Public Eye,” in Gustave Caillebotte and the Fashioning of Identity in Impressionist Paris, ed. Norma Broude (Rutgers University Press, 2002), pp. 50; 51, fig. 21.

Sylvie Patin, L’impressionisme (Bibliothèque des Arts, 2002), pp. 119; 120–21, fig. 88.

John House, Impressionism: Paint and Politics (Yale University Press, 2004), pp. 56, 57, pl. 44.

Aviva Burnstock, Klaas Jan van den Berg, and John House, “Painting Techniques of Pierre-Auguste Renoir: 1868–1919,” Art Matters: Netherlandish Technical Studies in Art 3 (2005), pp. 51, 52, 54.

Ann Dumas, “Renoir and the Feminine Ideal: An Introduction to Renoir’s Women,” in Ann Dumas and John Collins, Renoir’s Women, exh. cat. (Columbus Museum of Art/Merrell, 2005), pp. 26; 29, fig. 18.

Richard R. Brettell, “Gauguin’s Paintings in the Impressionist Exhibition of 1882,” in Richard R. Brettell and Anne-Brigitte Fonsmark, Gauguin and Impressionism, exh. cat. (Kimbell Art Museum/Ordrupgaard, 2005), pp. 158; 159, fig. 123.

Kyoko Kagawa, Runowaru [Pierre-Auguste Renoir], Seiyo kaiga no kyosho [Great masters of Western art] 4 (Shogakukan, 2006), p. 25 (ill.).

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. 1, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 403, cat. 372 (ill.).

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), pp. 16 (ill.); 66–67, cat. 24 (ill.); 69. Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 16 (ill.); 66–67, cat. 24 (ill.); 69.189

Gloria Groom, “The Social Network of Fashion,” in Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, ed. Gloria Groom, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Metropolitan Museum of Art/Musée d’Orsay/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 35.

Gloria Groom, “Les réseaux mondains de la mode,” in L’impressionnisme et la mode, ed. Gloria Groom, exh. cat. (Musée d’Orsay/Skira Flammarion, 2012), p. 77.

Gloria Groom, ed., Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Metropolitan Museum of Art/Musée d’Orsay/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 289, cat. 55 (ill.).

Gloria Groom, ed., L’Impressionnisme et la mode, exh. cat. (Musée d’Orsay/Skira Flammarion, 2012), p. 301, cat. 100.

Justine de Young, “Fashion and Intimate Portraits,” in Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity, ed. Gloria Groom, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Metropolitan Museum of Art/Musée d’Orsay/Yale University Press, 2012), pp. 120; 121, cat. 55 (ill.).

Justine de Young, “La mode en portraits intimes,” in L’impressionnisme et la mode, ed. Gloria Groom, exh. cat. (Musée d’Orsay/Skira Flammarion, 2012), pp. 150; 158, cat. 100 (ill.).

Janet Whitmore, “Whitmore Reviews: Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 13, 1 (Spring 2014), p. 20, fig. 8.


Other Documentation

Documentation from the Durand-Ruel Archives

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1200, Livre de stock Paris 1884–90190

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel, New York, 112, Livre de stock New York 1888–93191

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel, New York, 134, Livre de stock New York 1888–91192

Photograph number
Photo Durand-Ruel New York A 222193

Labels and Inscriptions

Undated

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: 30 (fig. 2.42)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: to 29 1/8 (fig. 2.43)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: 40 1/4 (fig. 2.49)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: 4[. . .] 1 / [. . .] (fig. 2.50)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: T[o] 36 1/2 (fig. 2.51)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: 37 (fig. 2.6)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: 41 3/8 / + (fig. 2.48)

Pre-1980

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script on red-and-white label
Content: 1827/3 (fig. 2.52)

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script on red-and-white label
Content: C11650 / Art Institute / of Chicago (fig. 2.7)

Label
Location: Masonite mount
Method: printed and typed label
Content: S. L. No. 2733 / THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM/ OF ART / SPECIAL LOAN EXHIBITION / OF / PAINTINGS BY PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR / Title Lady at the Piano / Artist Renoir / Owner Mrs. Martin A Ryerson / Address 4851 South [Dr]exel Avenue, / Chicago Ill. / Return Addr[. . .] Art Institute (fig. 2.12)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (black marker)
Content: 37.1025 (fig. 2.13)

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: no [strips?] / Oct 14- [5]7 (fig. 2.53)

Post-1980

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: printed and typed label with blue stamp
Content: FROM / THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / CHICAGO 3, ILLINOIS, U. S. A. / To RENOIR—LADY AT THE PIANO—37.1025 / [blue stamp] Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.47)

Label
Location: [glossary:backing board]
Method: printed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / ARTIST: Pierre Auguste Renoir / TITLE: Woman at the Piano (1875/76) / MEDIUM: Oil on canvas / CREDIT: Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Coll. / ACC.#: 1937.1025 (fig. 2.16)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label
Content: [logo] / JAPAN / YAMATO TRANSPORT CO.,LTD. / FINE ARTS DIVISION / JAPAN 94’ / EXHIBT. [Japanese characters] / CASE NO. 23 / CATAL. NO. 6 (fig. 2.15)

Stamp
Location: stretcher
Method: blue stamp
Content: Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.55)

Stamp
Location: stretcher
Method: blue stamp
Content: Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.54)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner. Scans were digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

Infrared Reflectography

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) and J filter (1.5–1.7 µm).

Transmitted Infrared

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm).

Visible Light

Natural-light, raking-light, and transmitted-light overalls and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-Resolution Visible Light (and Ultraviolet)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (X-NiteCC1 filter, Kodak Wratten 2E filter).

Microscopy and Photomicrographs

Sample and cross-sectional analysis were performed using a Zeiss Axioplan 2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/[glossary:UV fluorescence] and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: [glossary:darkfield], brightfield, differential interference contrast ([glossary:DIC]), and UV. In situ photomicrographs were taken with a Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with an Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

[glossary:Cross sections] were analyzed after carbon coating with a Hitachi S-3400N-II VPSEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state [glossary:BSE] detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)

A Jobin Yvon Horiba LabRAM 300 confocal Raman microscope was used, equipped with an Andor multichannel, Peltier-cooled, open-electrode charge-coupled device detector (Andor DV420-OE322; 1024×256), an Olympus BXFM open microscope frame, a holographic notch filter, and an 1,800-grooves/mm dispersive grating.

The excitation line of an air-cooled, frequency-doubled, He-Ne laser (632.8 nm) was focused through a 20× objective onto the samples, and Raman scattering was back collected through the same microscope objective. Power at the samples was kept very low (never exceeding a few mW) by a series of neutral density filters in order to avoid any thermal damage.194

Automated Thread Counting

Thread count and weave information were determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.195

Image Registration Software

Overlay images were registered using a novel image-based algorithm developed by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.196

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.14).


cat. 3  Woman at the Piano, 1875/76.

fig. 1.2

Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025. Interactive image.

fig. 1.1

Detail of the artist’s signature in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.20

Photomicrograph of the signature in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the mixture of translucent black and red paint. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 1.3

Clean-state photograph from the 1972 treatment of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 1.4

Photomicrograph of the piano in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The original dark red paint that the artist scraped back can be seen between strokes of the heavier impasto of later layers. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.22

Photomicrograph in UV light of a cross section of the ground and canvas in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The thin sizing layer between the canvas and the ground exhibits a bluish fluorescence. Original magnification: 500×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.23

Photomicrograph of a cross section of the ground and canvas in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). Original magnification: 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.24

Photomicrograph of the warm-white ground in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.25

Detail of the upper left portion of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The overall brightness of this area is the result of the artist’s use of bright white underpaint. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.26

Raking-light detail of the lower left corner in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the residual texture from the wide strokes of underpainting. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.27

Photomicrograph of the impasted, yellow details on the side of the piano in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.28

X-ray of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025. X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

fig. 2.29

Detail of the figure’s hair in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the artist’s layering of contrasting, directional strokes. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.30

X-ray, raking-light, and natural-light details of the figure’s head in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025. Interactive image.

fig. 2.31

Detail of the figure’s arm in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the sequence of paint layers. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.32

Photomicrograph of the piano in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the artist’s use of scraping. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.33

Detail of the figure’s face in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the smooth modeling used in the flesh tones. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.34

Photomicrograph of the bright highlight on the vase in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.35

Photomicrograph of the figure’s hair in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the artist’s use of stiff-bristle brushes. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.36

Photomicrograph of the rug in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). Bright and saturated details like this were added throughout the painting as a final step. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.37

Ultraviolet image of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.38

Photomicrograph in UV light of a cross section of the ground and paint layers in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The paint mixture shows the artist’s use of fluorescing and nonfluorescing red lakes side by side. Original magnification: 500×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.39

Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) in its current frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.40

Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) in a previous frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.41

Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) in a previous frame, second from left, installed in “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.42
fig. 2.43
fig. 2.49
fig. 2.50
fig. 2.51
fig. 2.48
fig. 2.52
fig. 2.53
fig. 2.54
fig. 2.55
fig. 2.56

Installation of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) in “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.57

X-ray of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing artist’s changes to the piano. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025. X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

fig. 2.58

Detail of the peignoir in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.19

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). A Girl Crocheting, c. 1875. Oil on canvas; 73.3 × 60.5 cm (28 7/8 × 23 13/16 in.). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., 1955.603. Bridgeman Images.

fig. 3.60

X-ray detail of the figure’s head in Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing its previous position as profil perdu. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025. X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

fig. 2.5

Frédéric Samuel Cordey (French, 1854–1911). Captive Audience, 1877. Oil on canvas; 114.3 × 146.7 cm (45 × 57 3/4 in.). Private collection. Photo © Christie's Images / The Bridgeman Art Library.

fig. 2.8

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Young Girls at the Piano, 1892. Oil on canvas; 116 × 90 cm (45 1/2 × 35 1/2 in.). Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF755. © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY. Photograph: Hervé Lewandowski.

fig. 2.9

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Ornamental Letter D (Alphonse Daudet), c. 1878. Photomechanical reproduction of a pen and ink drawing, from Alphonse Daudet’s “Les salons bourgeois,” Les chefs-d’oeuvre d’art à l’exposition universelle (Ludovic Baschet, 1878), p. 29. Photograph: The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

fig. 2.10

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Study of a Torso (Sunlight Effect), 1875/76. Oil on canvas; 81 × 65 cm (31 7/8 × 25 5/8 in.). Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France, RF2740. © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.11

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675). A Young Woman Standing at a Virginal, 1670/72. Oil on canvas; 51.7 × 45.2 cm (20 3/8 × 17 3/4 in). The National Gallery, London. © National Gallery, London/Art Resource, NY.

Loc./Neg. #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
C377378 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatmentUnknownNormal, overall
C15042.8 × 10 B&W negativeUnknownUnknownNormal, overall
C500258 × 10 CTPolaroid projectUnknown 
E388344 × 5 CT UnknownUnknownNormal, detail: center
E388354 × 5 CT UnknownUnknownNormal, detail: hands
C5961UnknownUnknownDec. 1924? 
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 6, 1972Normal, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 6, 1972Infrared, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 6, 1972Ultraviolet, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativeMidtreatmentJune 21, 1972?Normal, overall; clean state
Conservation35 mm slidesPosttreatmentJune 1972Normal (12 slides including varying light sources; details: hands, head, floor, lower skirt, candle/upper right piano)
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativeMidtreatmentSept. 2, 1972?Ultraviolet, overall; during cleaning
E92274 × 5 CT UnknownFeb. 5, 1986Normal, overall
E138674 × 5 CT UnknownDec. 1987Normal, overall
E193354 × 5 CT UnknownNov. 17, 1989Normal, overall
E378844 × 5 CT UnknownNov. 15, 1999Normal, overall
G28505DigitalExhibitionMar. 11, 2008Normal, overall
132369DigitalExhibitionNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E37884
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 14, 2009Details of frame, verso, and labels (9 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 14, 2009Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 14–15, 2009Details of surface (12 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 15, 2009Raking light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 15, 2009Normal, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 15, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
ConservationX-rayOSCISept. 15, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 16, 2009Photomicrographs of sample sites and surface (24 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 21, 2009Infrared (Inframetrics 1.5–1.73 µm filter), overall; composite
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 28, 2009Raking light details: lower left and figure face
G39028DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Normal, overall; composite of G39729–G39753
G39030DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Normal, frame only
G39729DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39730DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39731DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39732DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39733DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39734DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39735DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39736DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39737DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39738DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39739DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39740DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39741DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39742DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39743DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39744DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39745DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39746DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39747DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39748DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39749DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39750DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39751DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39752DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39753DigitalOSCIFeb. 23, 2012Section
G39029DigitalOSCIJuly 24, 2012Ultraviolet, overall

 

fig. 2.14
fig. 2.17

Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) in a previous frame, on display in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.18

X-ray detail of Renoir’s Woman at the Piano (1875/76) showing the double thread fault. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1937.1025.

fig. 2.6
fig. 2.7
fig. 2.12
fig. 2.13
fig. 2.16
fig. 2.15
fig. 2.47
 

Cat. 4

Alfred Sisley197
1876198
Oil on canvas; 66.2 × 54.8 cm (26 × 21 9/16 in.)
Signed: Renoir. (lower right, in dark red paint)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1933.453

Renoir and Sisley

In this painting of a close friend, Renoir dispensed with the formality typical of male portraiture in favor of an audacious originality of pose and execution. Comparing this work to his first portrait of Alfred Sisley (fig. 2.58 [Daulte 37; Dauberville 525]) and his picture of Alfred’s father, William Sisley (fig. 2.19 [Daulte 11; Dauberville 524]), makes clear how much Renoir’s pursuit of Impressionism over more than a decade opened up innovative paths of exploration.199 The elder Sisley moved to Paris from London in 1839 to manage a company dealing in luxury goods, with a specialty in imported gloves. Alfred was born on October 30 of the same year.200 Renoir’s portraits of the two Sisley men, depicted at the height of their prosperity, were important early commissions for the young artist, and he did not stray far from convention in pose, handling, and color. The image of William was accepted at the Salon of 1865 and ably proclaimed Renoir’s competence and skill as a portraitist to the Parisian public.

Eleven years later, in 1876, Renoir presented Alfred in a very different aspect. No longer is he the self-assured son of a comfortable bourgeois family, confident of his future. Instead he sits casually, facing the back of a mass-produced, bamboo-style side chair, with a distracted gaze that conveys a thoughtful introspection uncharacteristic of representations of men in nineteenth-century France, which for the most part coded authority and action. In 1926, near the end of his life, Claude Monet remembered the circumstances of the portrait’s creation: “I know of only one portrait of Sisley by Renoir. It’s the one he did at my house at Argenteuil, where he’s sitting astride my chair.”201 This would have been Monet’s second home in the riverside town of Argenteuil, the newly built Pavillon Flament, into which he moved with his family in October 1874.202 Monet, Renoir, and Sisley’s gathering there in 1876 was undoubtedly the occasion for earnest discussion of the future of Impressionist group exhibitions. Alfred Sisley is a fundamentally Impressionist painting in its freedom of handling and novel treatment of subject. While not intended as a manifesto for the movement, the portrait nevertheless acted as an affirmation of shared aesthetic goals that the three artists had cultivated over a decade and a half.203

Though the Chicago portrait would be the last of Renoir’s paintings for which Sisley posed, it was not the first time he had appeared in a painting that implied shared aesthetic views between the artist and the sitter. During the 1860s, he posed for a number of Renoir’s genre paintings. In 1868 he modeled with Renoir’s mistress Lise Tréhot for The Couple (fig. 3.60 [Daulte 34; Dauberville 256]), a bold demonstration of the artist’s awareness of the latest fashion trends and his mastery of colorful design.204 Firm adherents of the plein air school, Renoir and Sisley painted landscapes together in the forest of Fontainebleau during the summer of 1866. The occasion became the subject of Renoir’s first monumental group portrait, The Inn of Mère Antony (fig. 2.5 [Daulte 20; Dauberville 229]), in which Sisley is joined by fellow artist Jules Le Coeur and an unidentified figure.205 Sisley, dapper in a white felt hat and dark suit, engages his attentive companions in conversation. On the table before him sits a copy of L’événement, for which Émile Zola had been the art critic until that spring. The presence of the journal likely signifies Sisley’s involvement in progressive art debates of the day.206 His portrayal as a member of the avant-garde in The Inn of Mère Antony thus provides meaningful context for Renoir’s representation of him in the same capacity ten years later, though in the later work the point was made through provocative use of Impressionistic brushwork.

Monet, Renoir, and Sisley’s friendship began in 1862 in the studio of Charles Gleyre, where they first discovered that they shared common artistic interests. Recalling the first time she saw her future husband, probably in 1878 or 1879, Aline Charigot said that he was walking with Sisley and Monet on the rue Saint-Georges.207 Her description of the three as wearing their hair long and causing a spectacle by their appearance belies Sisley’s reputation for sporting elegant attire; in Renoir’s portrait he looks the perfect English gentleman, complete with starched shirt, cuff links, and lavaliere. Indeed, a photograph of Sisley usually dated to the early 1880s shows him meticulously clothed (fig. 2.8). Though Sisley may not have dressed the part of the struggling artist, there was no question about his aesthetic allegiances, allying himself as he did with Monet and Renoir to form a bloc within the Impressionist movement. In 1879 Renoir and Sisley declined to participate in the fourth Impressionist exhibition, choosing instead to send their paintings to the Salon that year (which Renoir had also done the year before). In 1880 Monet followed their example, exhibiting a landscape at the Salon (The Seine at Lavacourt, 1880; Dallas Museum of Art) rather than contributing to the fifth Impressionist exhibition in April. Sisley’s refusal by the Salon jury of 1879 weighed heavily on Renoir, whose portrait Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children (1878; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [Daulte 266; Dauberville 239]) encountered no such resistance.208 In June 1879 Renoir wrote a letter to Georges Charpentier encouraging the publisher to hold an exhibition of Sisley’s work at the offices of La vie moderne, but this did not come about until November 1881.209 Possibly feeling betrayed by what he perceived as careerism trumping group ideals, Sisley grew distant from Renoir, eventually becoming so bitter and withdrawn that he preferred to cross the road rather than meet his former friend on the sidewalk.210

The Sisley Portrait in the Context of Impressionism

Though the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel had been buying Sisley’s paintings since 1872, the commencement of the Impressionist exhibitions in April 1874 brought Sisley critical attention and hopes of an improved financial situation, much needed after his father’s bankruptcy following the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War. The second Impressionist exhibition in April 1876 also proved salutary for Sisley’s career. His submission consisted of eight landscape views of his home at the time, Marly-le-Roi, located fifteen miles west of Paris near Bougival. They included two winter scenes and a view of the notorious floods that struck in March. The paint could hardly have been dry, but the works were already on the market; all of Sisley’s paintings in the exhibition were borrowed from art dealers, suggesting a growing appreciation of and demand for his work. Indeed, at least two critics of the exhibition singled him out as an artist of notable talent.211 A sense of Sisley’s rising star is conveyed in Renoir’s portrait, which first appeared as part of Renoir’s submission to the third Impressionist exhibition in April 1877. That exhibition was also the occasion of an ambitious display of work by Sisley. The catalogue listed seventeen Sisley landscapes, eleven of which had owners, including some of the most important Impressionist collectors: Georges Charpentier, Théodore Duret, and Georges de Bellio.

The portrait of Sisley probably remained in Renoir’s studio until it was sent to the exhibition. There is no evidence that Sisley himself ever owned the work. Indeed, an inscription on the original stretcher, portrait du peintre Sisley—par Renoir, displays characteristics of Renoir’s hand (in the formation of the p, for example) and may date from this time (fig. 2.7). The 1877 Impressionist exhibition included Renoir’s masterpiece Dance at the Moulin de la Galette (1876; Musée d’Orsay, Paris [Daulte 209; Dauberville 211]) and was pivotal to establishing his reputation as the preeminent Impressionist figure painter and portraitist.212 The portrait of Sisley was one of several to demonstrate Renoir’s ability in this genre. The others he exhibited represented a virtual assembly of the select members of Parisian society who supported him, including many of the same patrons who purchased work by Sisley: Marguerite Charpentier, wife of Georges (1876–77; Musée d’Orsay, Paris [Daulte 226; Dauberville 465]); Jeanne Samary (fig. 2.9 [Daulte 229; Dauberville 462]), actress of the Comédie Française; and Jacques-Eugène Spuller (c. 1877; private collection [Daulte 71; Dauberville 545]), a Republican politician who had been elected deputy of the Seine in March 1876.213 The emphasis on portrait painting in the context of an Impressionist exhibition was not simply self-promotion for Renoir; it was also an attempt to establish a new interest in the genre as an art form. Georges Rivière, one of Renoir’s closest friends at the time and his future biographer, provided one of the few contemporary comments on the Sisley portrait, highlighting its importance to Renoir’s development as an artist: “The series of portraits ends with one of Sisley, one of the establishment regulars. This portrait achieves an extraordinary likeness and possesses great value as a work of art.”214

In claiming that the Sisley portrait was not only an accurate likeness but also artistically significant, Rivière expanded the usual critical discourse surrounding portraiture at the Salon, which was limited in breadth as the genre did not invite progressive approaches to painting. Renoir’s example at the 1877 exhibition also inspired critics close to the Impressionists to reconsider portraiture’s validity as a pursuit for progressive artists. In a brief but pioneering historical survey of Impressionism published as a brochure in 1878, Duret alluded to Renoir’s gifts as a portrait painter: “Renoir excels at portraits. Not only does he catch the external features, but through them he pinpoints the model’s character and inner self.”215 Duret’s comments suggest that there existed a level of familiarity between the sitter and the artist in Renoir’s work that was unusual in nineteenth-century portrait painting. Sisley’s pose, as if he has been caught in a moment of reflection, is remarkably original, but it also reveals that Renoir looked to the past in developing his innovative approach: Alfred Sisley shares the psychological awareness and spontaneity of pose visible in the work of Frans Hals and Dutch seventeenth-century portraiture more generally (see fig. 2.10).

Renoir did not arrive easily at Sisley’s pose, however. [glossary:X-ray] and transmitted infrared images of the painting show that the artist made many changes to the position of the arms. It is possible that both arms were initially folded over the chair back (fig. 2.11; see Paint Layer in the technical report). But once resolved, the pose must have satisfied Renoir, as he returned to it in late 1877 for the commissioned portrait of the collector Eugène Murer (fig. 2.14 [Daulte 246; Dauberville 547]).216

It was in 1876 or early 1877 that Renoir and Sisley made the acquaintance of Murer, a pastry cook turned artist, who became one of Sisley’s most devoted patrons.217 Alfred Sisley was among eleven Renoir paintings that Murer apparently purchased in a lot for 500 francs, probably not long after the close of the third Impressionist exhibition at the end of April 1877.218 This transaction had taken place by early 1883, when the artist approached Murer about borrowing the portrait for his retrospective exhibition, organized by Durand-Ruel and scheduled to open April 1 of that year. But the portrait is not identified in the catalogue of the retrospective, nor is Murer credited as a lender to that exhibition, and thus it may not have been on display or may have been exhibited but not catalogued.219 Renoir’s request for the Sisley portrait suggests that he still felt kindly toward his friend, though little is known about their relationship during this period.220 Sisley’s own show of some seventy works, held June 1–25, 1883, followed the solo exhibitions of Monet, Renoir, Eugène Boudin, and Camille Pissarro and completed the series of Impressionist exhibitions at Durand-Ruel’s boulevard de la Madeleine location. Sisley remained an important member of the Impressionist circle of artists promoted by Durand-Ruel and kept up regular contact with Pissarro.221

Renoir’s Stipple-Brush Technique

This undated portrait has been assigned dates ranging from 1874 to 1879, but it was most likely made shortly after the second Impressionist exhibition of 1876, for a variety of reasons.222 First, an earlier date would be inconsistent with Renoir’s tendency in the mid-1870s to exhibit his paintings soon after they were finished. Second, the distinctive stippled appearance of the work, in which short brushstrokes rich with paint were used to create a highly textured surface, is shared by many works executed in 1876 and 1877, including the five other oil portraits in the 1877 Impressionist exhibition. This visually dynamic technique did not sit well with one art critic: “Some of Renoir’s Portraits look all right—at a distance—so that you do not notice too much his way of applying brushstrokes like pastel hatchings and the peculiar scratches that make his style seem so painful.”223 The comparison of Renoir’s brushstrokes to “pastel hatchings” can most readily be read as referring to the crisscross strokes in the arms and the overall lighter tone of Jeanne Samary (fig. 2.9). The brazen handling of the pale flesh tones in Sisley’s face, where, in addition to fine brushes, the artist used a palette knife to bring up the bright reddish-orange hues below (fig. 2.17), contrasts with the impeccably bourgeois presentation of the sitter and identifies Renoir irrefutably as a member of the Impressionist circle.

In 1902 Camille Mauclair suggested that Alfred Sisley anticipated the pointillism of the Neo-Impressionists, but the portrait displays little of the controlled construction of form and scientific approach to color that define that movement.224 Rather, Renoir achieved volume and depth by using a small brush to apply a wide range of colors. This is particularly noticeable in the small directional strokes of the beard (fig. 2.18). In addition, Renoir assigned as much importance to the layering of colors as to their juxtaposition. Around the eyes, for example, he applied the paint using several different methods in order to produce a variety of surface textures, from visible canvas weave to thick impasto that yields a sculptural effect (fig. 2.6). This technique of unifying the entire canvas with a stippled effect is frequently seen in Renoir’s more experimental painting style during the mid-1870s and is especially evident on close examination, where the details seem so gestural.

Renoir’s portrait of Sisley has long been recognized as an honorable tribute to an important friendship and artistic alliance. A photograph of the portrait, reproduced en lettre (in the body of the paragraph), was the opening illustration for a lengthy obituary of Sisley published in the March 1899 issue of the Gazette des beaux-arts.225 Appearing at a sensitive time following the Musée du Luxembourg’s acceptance of Gustave Caillebotte’s collection of Impressionist paintings, the obituary included an assessment of Impressionism’s place in art history.
John Collins

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir’s portrait of Alfred Sisley is heavily worked, making use of the various textures afforded by the [glossary:oil] medium. Beginning with a standard-size, commercially prepared [glossary:canvas], the artist appears to have sketched the initial contours of the figure in blue paint; some of these blue contours also initiated the painting process. Crosshatching and the play of competing textures and colors layered over one another are common throughout the background and the figure’s coat. The flesh tones show the heaviest working, especially in the face, where Renoir employed a [glossary:palette knife] to model the features, scraping away the paler layers to reveal the brighter paint beneath. The paint is often of a stiff consistency and contrasts with more traditional [glossary:wet-in-wet] modeling through its pronounced texture and limited intermixing. For the figure’s beard, the artist used a wide array of colors and very small brushes to create the sense of volume and depth. Lastly, small touches of bright color were added to the beard, eyes, and highlights of the chair.

Renoir made alterations to the main contours of the figure’s body, widening both arms, moving both cuffs, and raising the right shoulder. Evidence in the [glossary:transmitted-infrared] and [glossary:X-ray] images also suggests that Sisley may initially have been portrayed with his right hand crossed over his left across the top of the chair back. The chair itself was also changed: the vertical stiles were moved slightly to the left, and the curved, horizontal rails were tapered and curved further downward on the right side. The X-ray, raking-light, and infrared images show a number of unidentified forms around Sisley’s right hand and on the far right, which may indicate other changes.226 The work is coated with a thin [glossary:natural-resin varnish], which serves to saturate the colors and visually differentiate them, especially in the coat, hair, and dark background, but it is not original to the painting.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 2.52).227

Signature

Signed: Renoir. (lower right, in dark-red paint) (fig. 1.2fig. 1.1).228

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).229

Standard format

The original dimensions of the canvas were approximately 65 × 53.8 cm, measuring from the original foldover. This is consistent with a no. 15 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size (65 × 54 cm) canvas; this is also the number stenciled on the verso of the original [glossary:stretcher] (fig. 2.20fig. 1.3).230

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 22.6V (0.7) × 16.8 (1.3) threads/cm. The vertical threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the horizontal threads to the [glossary:weft].231

Canvas characteristics

There is [glossary:cusping] around the perimeter of the canvas corresponding to the placement of the original tacks; cusping along the vertical warp threads is particularly pronounced. In addition, the canvas is marked by irregular thread thickness, especially the horizontal threads, resulting in a wide variation in thread density (6.9–32.9 threads/cm) (fig. 2.53).232

Stretching

Current stretching: When the painting was lined in 1972, the original dimensions were increased by approximately 0.25 cm (1/10 in.) on all sides (see Conservation History).

Original stretching: Based on cusping visible in the X-ray, the original tacks were placed approximately 4.5–6.5 cm apart.

Stretcher/strainer

Current stretcher: Four-member redwood ICA spring stretcher. Depth: 2.7 cm.

Original stretcher: Five-member keyable stretcher with blind mortise-and-tenon construction and a horizontal [glossary:crossbar]. Depth: 0.8 cm.233

Manufacturer’s/supplier’s marks

Stamp
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: ovular stamp
Content: TOILES ET COULEURS FINES / REY & Cie / PARIS. / x [5]1 RUE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD x (fig. 1.4)234

Stamp
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: stamp
Content: 15 (fig. 1.3)

Stamp
Location: verso of original canvas (covered by lining)
Method: ovular stamp
Content: [. . .] / RE[Y] & [. . .] / PARI[S] / [. . .] RUE [. . .] (fig. 2.22)235

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

Not determined (probably glue).236

Ground application/texture

The canvas has a commercial [glossary:ground] layer that extends to the edges of the [glossary:tacking margins]. The preparation is smooth and thin, ranging from approximately 10–105 µm in depth, and partially fills the canvas [glossary:weave] (fig. 2.24).

Color

The commercial preparation appears to be almost white, with dark particles visible under [glossary:stereomicroscopic examination] (fig. 2.23).237 The ground remains visible in selected areas of the background, especially on the right (fig. 2.12).

Materials/composition

The ground is predominantly lead white with small amounts of barium sulfate; iron oxide yellow, orange, and/or brown; and associated silicates and clay minerals, calcium-based compounds, and traces of alumina.238 The binder is estimated to be oil.239

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch
Extent/character

Reflected- and transmitted-infrared examinations indicate that Renoir outlined the figure’s coat and major contours; however, microscopic examination suggests that these contours also initiated the painting stage (fig. 2.54).240

Medium/technique

Blue paint.

Revisions

No compositional changes noted in drawing stage; see Paint Layer.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

Renoir vigorously worked the paint throughout this composition, using various textures and exercising his ability to manipulate the medium. The work seems to have been executed in a number of stages, probably beginning with Sisley’s sitting for the artist while he established the basic composition, followed by further working up of the paint layers either with additional sittings or later in the studio; the paint layers appear to have mostly dried between painting campaigns. The paint in many areas is rather stiff, paste-like, and thick, reinforcing the textures of the canvas weave and underlying paint with each brushstroke. This is very evident on the upper right, where Renoir began with a heavy zigzag pattern in an ocher-beige color before layering blues and light greens over it (fig. 2.25). These cooler colors, which caught only the upper ridges of the texture beneath, contrast with the warmer undertones and create an interesting play of competing textures and directional strokes. A similar style of paint application, while less pronounced, can be seen in the background on the upper left (fig. 2.26). The crosshatched effect visible in the background, created with heavy strokes of a stiff-bristle brush, is characteristic of the modeling used throughout the work, and a comparable pattern of strokes in much flatter paint can be seen across the coat. As a finishing highlight on the figure’s left sleeve, the artist applied paint in thin, diagonal strokes that run against the curved contours of the arm. Here he allowed the bulk of the paint to load on one side of a flat brush, creating a thin line akin to that made by the edge of a palette knife.

The flesh tones were heavily worked, especially in the face, where Renoir employed very thick paint that he scraped back with a palette knife in some areas. The artist began these areas with thin strokes using a fine brush and almost-dry paint; the paint in these areas—under the eyes, for example—skipped the depressions in the canvas weave and left the ground exposed. Once the contours were established, he applied strong reddish-orange and blue hues in selected areas of the face, over which he put down thin layers of pale-pink and peachy colors for the flesh; then he scraped the flat surface of the palette knife across the upper, still-soft paint layers, revealing the brighter colors below (fig. 2.27). The stiffer paint consistency overall lent itself to a different kind of wet-in-wet [glossary:modeling], in which each stroke with a soft-bristle brush picked up less of the surrounding and underlying colors, but more of the texture. This is very evident in the figure’s beard, where the artist seems to have used all the colors on his [glossary:palette] with very small brushes in a series of small, directional strokes that blend with one another to varying degrees. Within the beard, traditional wet-in-wet modeling with paint of a more liquid consistency appears side by side with the stiffer paint (fig. 2.28), and a few bright touches were applied as final details once the majority of the paint was dry. Renoir used similar small dabs of bright color or white throughout the work, for example, the bright orange-reds and white highlights on the bamboo chair in the foreground and the blue, green, and yellow in the figure’s eyes (fig. 2.13).

The artist changed some of the major contours in this composition, adjusting Sisley’s pose and the space he occupies. The head and the hair immediately around it were established early in the process and the background brought in before the feathering curls on the right were added. The X-ray suggests that there may have been slight changes to the figure’s face and the placement of the nose and eyes; however, the nature of these revisions is unclear. The figure’s right shoulder was raised, and his right arm widened along its outer edge. Comparing the finished painting with the X-ray and infrared images suggests that Renoir altered this outer contour more than once. Similarly, the figure’s left sleeve was also widened along the forearm; this and a slight repositioning caused the elbow to largely obscure the top right corner of the chair. The X-ray suggests that the cuff of this sleeve may originally have been farther away from the face and farther down, which may have affected the position of the hand. The cuff was then moved up toward the face, making the sleeve longer, and the heel of the hand and the cuff in their current position were widened to make them proportionate to the sleeve. The X-ray and transmitted- and reflected-infrared images show other forms near the dangling right hand and on the far right that suggest that the artist may have made other compositional changes; for instance, it is possible that Sisley was initially portrayed with both elbows out and hands crossed over the back of the chair. In the transmitted-infrared image it looks as if the top edge of the figure’s right arm might have been higher than its final placement, while the [glossary:infrared reflectogram] shows the faint outline of his elbow out toward the right edge of the painting. The area around the fingers in the infrared and X-ray images suggests that both hands were once toward the center of the work, possibly with the right hand crossed over the left; as there is little evidence of the top edge of the figure’s left arm in any of the technical images, this idea appears to have been abandoned early in the process in favor of the current pose.241

While the thin, vertical spindles of the chair were executed over Sisley’s finished form, the larger elements—the vertical stiles and the horizontal rails—seem to have been established before Renoir brought in the dark-blue surroundings. After initially placing the two outer stiles and adjusting the figure’s coat and the background paint, the artist moved the chair slightly to the left. Under normal viewing conditions, the left edges of both stiles pass over the textured, diagonal strokes of the figure’s costume (fig. 2.29). The curved, horizontal rails of the chair back were also subtly altered; in front of the figure’s dangling right hand, the forms were slimmed and angled slightly further downward, to make them more symmetrical with the left side.

Painting tools

Stiff- and soft-bristle brushes with strokes up to 1 cm wide; small, round brushes; palette knife for scraping/removal of paint.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following [glossary:pigments]:242 lead white, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, chrome yellow,243 cadmium yellow,244 iron oxide yellow-brown, viridian, emerald green, carbon black, vermilion, madder lake, and a second red lake.

The observation of a characteristic salmon-colored [glossary:fluorescence] under [glossary:UV] light indicates that Renoir used fluorescing red lake in the flesh tones, hair, chair, and some areas of the coat (fig. 2.55). [glossary:Cross-sectional analysis] reveals that he used a second, nonfluorescing red lake in other areas (fig. 2.30). A small section from a sample containing both fluorescing and nonfluorescing red lakes was analyzed and found to contain madder lake.245

Binding media

Oil (estimated).246

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

The current very thin natural-resin varnish (damar) was applied during the 1996–97 treatment. UV examination reveals residues of an earlier natural-resin varnish around areas of thick [glossary:impasto] throughout the painting.

The work has been varnished at least three times in its history. The current [glossary:varnish] replaced a [glossary:synthetic varnish] applied during the 1972 treatment (see Conservation History). During that treatment, a discolored natural-resin varnish was removed. A 1968 condition report notes the presence of cleaning abrasions and subsequent “glazing” to hide them.247 Such abrasions indicate that the work was treated and cleaned prior to 1968, and therefore the natural-resin varnish present at that time was not original to the painting. In 1996 a very thin damar varnish was applied, locally blotted, and dry brushed to produce a lean surface while maintaining proper saturation.248

Conservation History

The painting has been treated on three documented occasions since the Art Institute acquired it in 1933. In 1968 the work was observed to have a yellowed natural-resin varnish and to be generally abraded, with retouched glazes to minimize the appearance of damage.249 The abraded appearance noted at this time is thought to be the result of a previous, undocumented cleaning, possibly prior to acquisition. A pulpboard insert was placed between the canvas and the stretcher at an unknown date; however, labels and stamps indicate that the painting retained its original stretcher. During the 1968 treatment, the work was cleaned of grime, and the heavy varnish was slightly thinned with solvents. The more noticeable losses and abrasions were inpainted, and the painting was varnished with three coats of synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA).

The next treatment, in 1972, sought to address both structural and aesthetic issues.250 The work was cleaned of grime, varnish, and [glossary:overpaint] with solvents, then faced with starch paste in preparation for lining. The painting was wax-resin lined and attached to a new ICA spring stretcher of slightly larger dimensions. Pretreatment dimensions were listed as 65.5 × 54 cm, and the replacement stretcher measured 66 × 54.6 cm (26 × 21 1/2 in.). Before it was discarded, the original stretcher was photographed, labels were preserved, and stamps were documented with tracings. The work was inpainted and varnished with three coats of synthetic varnish, using the methods and materials of the 1968 treatment.

In 1996 the painting was treated in preparation for exhibition, and the synthetic surface coatings, [glossary:inpainting], and residual starch paste were removed.251 The painting was examined in its unvarnished state by a group of curators and conservators, who decided that the work was not intended to be completely unvarnished (see Surface Finish). While the flesh tones seemed improved by the cleaning, modeling of the figure’s dark coat and the background was obscured in the unvarnished state. The work was lightly varnished with damar, locally blotted, and dry brushed to achieve proper saturation and balance; finally, it was retouched.

Condition Summary

The work is in good condition, wax lined, planar, and stable. The ground layer has darkened slightly due to the combined effects of grime, age, and saturation of the fabric by the lining material. There is cracking in and around more thickly painted areas, including parts of the coat, flesh tones, and background on the upper left, and there is a concentric impact crack near the figure’s elbow on the lower right. Small, localized losses, some inpainted, occur throughout, and the work has some [glossary:retouching] along the edges. The painting has a thin natural-resin varnish, which imparts saturation and an even gloss.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

The current frame appears to be original to the painting.252 It is a French, late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century, Louis XIV reproduction, gilt torus frame with cast plaster anthemia corner cartouches and fleur-de-lis center cartouches linked by foliate scrolls and strapwork. The frame has oil and water gilding over red bole on cast plaster and gesso. The sight moldings are burnished, and the ornament is selectively burnished. The gilding is heavily rubbed and toned with a casein or gouache raw umber wash with a gray overwash. The molding is constructed of several woods, including oak, pine, and possibly linden, and is mitered and nailed. At some point in the frame’s history, the original verso was planed flat, removing all construction history and provenance, a back frame was added, and all back and interior surfaces were painted. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is torus with dentil outer molding; sanded back frieze bordered with fillets; scotia side; torus face with anthemia corner cartouches and fleur-de-lis center cartouches on diamond beds, linked by scrolls and strapwork with flower heads on a quadrillage bed; fillet; sanded front frieze; ogee with leaf-tip ornament linked by c-scrolls and strapping on a recut bed; and quirked ogee sight molding (fig. 2.57, fig. 2.44).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Sold by the artist to Eugène Murer, Paris, by Apr. 1883, as part of a lot of eleven paintings sold for 500 francs.253

Deposited by Eugène Murer, Paris, at Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1883.254

Returned by Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Eugène Murer, Paris, 1883.255

Possibly sold by Eugène Murer, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1896.256

Acquired by Ivan Shchukin, Paris, by Mar. 1899.257

Sold at the Shchukin Sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, Mar. 24, 1900, lot 17, to Dr. George Viau, Paris, for 6,100 francs.258

Dr. George Viau, Paris, to at least June 20, 1912.259

Acquired by Herman Heilbuth, by 1921.260

Acquired by Howard Young, New York.261

Acquired by Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn, Chicago, by 1929.262

Bequeathed by Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn (died 1932), Chicago, to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.

Exhibition History

Paris, 6, rue Le Peletier, 3e exposition de peinture [third Impressionist exhibition], Apr. 1877, cat. 190, as Portrait de M. Sisley.263

Rouen, Hôtel du Dauphin et d’Espagne, Magnifique collection d’impressionnistes dont 30 toiles du grand artiste Renoir, May 1896.264

Expos. Rétrosp. 1900.265

Dresden, Der Grosse Kunstausstellung Dresden 1904, Retrospekive Abteilung, May 1–end of Oct., 1904, cat. 2246, as Bildnis des Malers Sisley.266

Possibly Paris, Grand Palais, Salon d’Automne, Oct. 15–Nov. 15, 1904.267

Paris, Durand-Ruel, Portraits par Renoir, June 5–20, 1912, cat. 34, as Portrait de Sisley, 1876.268

Barcelona, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Exposition d’arts Français, Salon d’automne, 1917, possibly exhibited, but not in cat.269

Copenhagen, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Malerisale, August Renoir: Udstilling af hans Arbejder I Skandinavisk Eje samt Udlaan fra Franske Samlere, Mar. 17–Apr. 10, 1921, cat. 5.270

Art Institute of Chicago, Exhibition of the Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection: Modern Paintings and Watercolors, Apr. 6–Oct. 9, 1932, cat. 31 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein and Company, Great Portraits from Impressionism to Modernism, Mar. 1–29, 1938, cat. 39.

Milwaukee Art Institute, Masters of Impressionism, Oct. 8–Nov. 15, 1948, cat. 39.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 16 (ill.).

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886, Jan. 17–Apr. 6, 1986, cat. 63 (ill.); Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Apr. 19–July 6, 1986.

Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, 1874 nen—Pari: (dai ikkai inshoha ten) to sono jidai/Paris en 1874: L’année de l’impressionnisme, Sept. 20–Nov. 27, 1994, cat. 44 (ill.).

Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, June 27–Sept. 14, 1997, cat. 26 (ill.); Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 17, 1997–Jan. 4, 1998; Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, Feb. 8–Apr. 26, 1998. (fig. 2.16)

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 22 (ill.).

Selected References

Catalogue de la 3e exposition de peinture, exh. cat. (E. Capiomont et V. Renault, 1877), p. 13, cat. 190.271

Georges Rivière, “L’exposition des impressionnistes,” L’impressionniste 1 (Apr. 6, 1877), p. 4.

Paul Sébillot, “Exposition des impressionnistes,” Le bien public, Apr. 7, 1877, p. 2. Reprinted in Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 1, Reviews (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), p. 190.272

“Exposition des impressionnistes: 6, rue Le Peletier; 6,” La petite republique française, Apr. 10, 1877, p. 2. Reprinted in Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 1, Reviews (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), p. 176.

Émile Bergerat, “Revue artistique: Les impressionistes et leur exposition,” Journal officiel de la république française 105 (Apr. 17, 1877), p. 2918.

Trublot [Paul Alexis], “La collection Murer,” Le cri du peuple 43 (Oct. 21, 1887). Reprinted in Paul Gachet, Le docteur Gachet et Murer: Deux amis des impressionnistes (Musées Nationaux, 1956), p. 172.

Julien Leclercq, “Alfred Sisley,” Gazette des beaux-arts 21, 3 (Mar. 1899), pp. 227 (ill.), 534.

“Collection d’un amateur,” Gazette de l’hôtel Drouot 86–87 (Mar. 27–28, 1900), n. pag.

Camille Mauclair, “L’oeuvre d’Auguste Renoir,” L’art décoratif 41, pt. 1 (Feb. 1902), pp. 180, 182 (ill.).

Camille Mauclair, L’impressionnisme: Son histoire, son esthétique, ses maîtres, 2nd ed. (Librairie de l’Art Ancien et Moderne, 1904), pp. 112, 229. Translated by P. G. Konody as The French Impressionists (1860–1900) (Duckworth/E. P. Dutton, [1903]), p. 120.273

Grossen Kunstausstellung, Offizieller Katalog der Grossen Kunstausstellung Dresden 1904, exh. cat. (Alwin Arnold & Gröschel, Apr. 30, 1904), p. 123, cat. 2246.274

Henry Morrison, “Auguste Renoir, Impressionist,” Brush and Pencil 17, 5 (May 1906), p. 202.

Louis Vauxcelles, “Portraits contemporains,” L’art et les artistes 6 (Oct. 1907–Mar. 1908), p. 536 (ill.).

Durand-Ruel, Paris, Portraits par Renoir, exh. cat. (Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1912), p. 5, cat. 34.

Ambroise Vollard, La vie and l’oeuvre de Pierre-Auguste Renoir (A. Vollard, 1919), p. 48. Translated by Harold L. Van Doren and Randolph T. Weaver as Renoir: An Intimate Record (Knopf, 1925), pp. 53, 237.275

Georges Lecomte, “L’oeuvre de Renoir,” L’art et les artistes 4, 14 (Jan. 1920), p. 146 (ill.).

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Malerisale, Copenhagen, August Renoir: Udstilling af hans Arbejder I Skandinavisk Eje samt Udlaan fra Franske Samlere, exh. cat. (Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek Malerisale, 1921), p. 7, cat. 5.

Georges Rivière, Renoir et ses amis (H. Floury, 1921), opp. p. 50 (ill.).

Théodore Duret, Renoir (Bernheim-Jeune, 1924), p. 72. Translated into English by Madeleine Boyd as Renoir (Crown, 1937), p. 54.276

Gustave Geffroy, Sisley (G. Crès, 1927), p. 4 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir (Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1929), pp. 99–100, no. 1; 136, no. 106 (ill.).

Reginald Howard Wilenski, French Painting (Hale, Cushman & Flint, 1931), p. 262.

Hans Heilmaier, “Alfred Sisley,” Die Kunst 63, 5 (Feb. 1931), p. 137 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Exhibition of the Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection: Modern Paintings and Watercolors, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), pp. 6; 22, no. 31; 53, no. 31 (ill.).

“Mrs. Coburn Leaves 83 Pictures, $200,000 Funds, to Chicago,” Art Digest 6, 18 (July 1, 1932), p. 5 (ill.).

Daniel Catton Rich, “The Bequest of Mrs. L. L. Coburn,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 26, 6 (Nov. 1932), p. 68.

Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, “Renoir,” in Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, vol. 28, Ramsden–Rosa (Seemann, 1934), p. 170.

Great Portraits from Impressionism to Modernism, with a foreword by Frank Crowninshield, exh. cat. (Wildenstein and Co./Marchbanks, 1938), p. 35, cat. 39.

Lionello Venturi, Les archives de l’impressionnisme: Lettres de Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, et autres; Mémoires de Paul Durand-Ruel; Documents, vol. 2 (Durand-Ruel, 1939), opp. p. 52 (ill.); pp. 261, 310.

Lo Duca, “Il centenario di Alfred Sisley (1839–1939),” Emporium 90, 539 (Nov. 1939), p. 236 (ill.).

Rosamund Frost, Pierre Auguste Renoir, ed. Aimèe Crane, Hyperion Art Monographs (Hyperion/Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1944), p. 21 (ill.).

John Rewald, The History of Impressionism (Museum of Modern Art/Simon & Schuster, 1946), pp. 296 (ill.), 313. Translated by Nancy Goldet-Bouwens as Histoire de l’impressionisme (A. Michel, 1955), p. 243.

Milwaukee Art Institute, Masters of Impressionism (Milwaukee Art Institute, 1948), cat. 39.

Marcelle Berr de Turique, Renoir (Phaidon, [1953]), pl. 34.

Paul Gachet, Le docteur Gachet et Murer: Deux amis des impressionnistes (Musées Nationaux, 1956), opp. p. 28, fig. 19; pp. 172; 176.

Paul Gachet, Lettres impressionnistes: Pissarro, Cézanne, Guillaumin, Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Vignon, Van Gogh, et autres . . . (Grasset, 1957), opp. p. 120 (ill.); p. 92.

François Daulte, Alfred Sisley: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint (Durand-Ruel, 1959), p. 33, fig. 3.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 395.277

François Fosca, Renoir: L’homme et son oeuvre (A. Somogy, 1961), p. 114. Translated by Mary I. Martin as Renoir: His Life and Work (Prentice-Hall, 1962), p. 114.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84, 55 (Sept. 1966), p. 203.

Charles C. Cunningham and Satoshi Takahashi, Shikago bijutsukan [Art Institute of Chicago], Museums of the World 32 (Kodansha, 1970), p. 163 (ill.).

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 1, Figures, 1860–1890 (Durand-Ruel, 1971), pp. 136–37, cat. 117 (ill.).

Elda Fezzi, L’opera completa di Renoir: Nel periodo impressionista, 1869–1883, Classici dell’arte 59 (Rizzoli, 1972), p. 95, cat. 138 (ill.).278

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 26; 60–61, cat. 16 (ill.); 66; 210; 211; 214.

Raymond Cogniat, Sisley, trans. Alice Sachs (Crown, 1978), pp. 3–4 (ill.).279

J. Patrice Marandel, The Art Institute of Chicago: Favorite Impressionist Paintings (Cross River, 1979), pp. 66–67 (ill.).

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism (Abbeville, 1980), pp. 255 (ill.), 438.280

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism, Tiny Folios (Abbeville, 1980), p. 152, pl. 12.

Sylvie Gache-Patin and Jacques Lassaigne, Sisley (Nouvelles Éd. Françaises, 1983), pp. 51; 52, ill. 57.

Barbara Ehrlich White, Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters (Abrams, 1984), pp. 51, 54 (ill.), 74.

Daniel Wildenstein, Claude Monet: Biographie et catalogue raisonné, vol. 4, Peintures, 1899–1926 (Bibliothèque des Arts, 1985), p. 421, letter 2623.281

Richard R. Brettell, “The ‘First’ Exhibition of Impressionist Painters,” in The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886, ed. Charles S. Moffett, with the assistance of Ruth Berson, Barbara Lee Williams, and Fronia E. Wissman, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986), p. 194.

Melissa McQuillan, Impressionist Portraits (Thames & Hudson, 1986), pp. 110–11 (ill.), 197.

Charles S. Moffett, ed., with the assistance of Ruth Berson, Barbara Lee Williams, and Fronia E. Wissman, The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1986), pp. 206; 237, cat. 63 (ill.).

Richard R. Brettell, French Impressionists (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1987), pp. 36 (ill.), 37, 119.

Nicholas Wadley, ed., Renoir: A Retrospective (Hugh Lauter Levin/Macmillan, 1987), p. 211 (ill.).

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989), p. 150, cat. 17 (ill.).

David Bomford, Jo Kirby, John Leighton, and Ashok Roy, Art in the Making: Impressionism, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/Yale University Press, 1990), p. 203, fig. 94.

Isabelle Cahn, “Documentary Chronology,” in Alfred Sisley, ed. MaryAnne Stevens, exh. cat. (Royal Academy of Arts, London/Musée d’Orsay/Walters Art Gallery/Yale University Press, 1992), p. 264, fig. 140.

Vivienne Couldrey, Alfred Sisley: The English Impressionist (David & Charles, 1992), p. 47.282

Iain Gale, Sisley (Studio, 1992), p. 28 (ill.). 

Richard Shone, Sisley, Impressionists/Post-Impressionists (Phaidon, 1992), pp. 108–09, pl. 80; 110; 112; 122–23. Translated into French by Atelier d’Édition Européen as Richard Shone, Sisley (Phaidon, 2004), pp. 108–09, pl. 80; 110; 112; 122.

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago, with an introduction by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1993), p. 66 (ill.).

Anne Distel, Renoir: “Il faut embellir,” Découvertes Gallimard: Peinture 177 (Gallimard/Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1993), pp. 38 (ill.), 168. Translated by Lory Frankel as Renoir: A Sensuous Vision (Thames & Hudson, 1995), pp. 38 (ill.), 168.

Akiya Takahashi and Ruth Berson, 1874 nen—Pari: (dai ikkai inshoha ten) to sono jidai/Paris en 1874: L’année de l’impressionnisme, exh. cat. (Kokuritsu Seiyo Bijutsukan/Yomiuri Shimbunsha, 1994), pp. 113, cat. 44 (ill.); 206.

Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 1, Reviews (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), pp. 120, 129, 176, 180, 190.

Ruth Berson, ed., The New Painting: Impressionism, 1874–1886; Documentation, vol. 2, Exhibited Works (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/University of Washington Press, 1996), pp. 82, 101 (ill.).

Natalia Brodskaïa, Auguste Renoir: He Made Colour Sing, trans. Paul Williams, Great Painters (Parkstone/Aurora Art, 1996), p. 28 (ill.).

Eliza E. Rathbone, “Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party: Tradition and the New,” in Eliza E. Rathbone, Katherine Rothkopf, Richard R. Brettell, and Charles S. Moffett, Impressionists on the Seine: A Celebration of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” exh. cat. (Phillips Collection/Counterpoint, 1996), p. 31.

Colin B. Bailey, “Portrait of the Artist as a Portrait Painter,” in Colin B. Bailey, with the assistance of John B. Collins, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Canada/Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 21; 51, n. 224. Translated as Colin B. Bailey, “Portrait de l’artiste en portraitiste,” in Colin B. Bailey, with the assistance of John B. Collins, Les portraits de Renoir: Impressions d’une époque, trans. Danielle Chaput and Julie Desgagné, exh. cat. (Gallimard/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, 1997), p. 21.

Colin B. Bailey, with the assistance of John B. Collins, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exh. cat. (National Gallery of Canada/Yale University Press, 1997), pp. 149–51, cat. 26 (ill.); 290, cat. 26. Translated by Danielle Chaput and Julie Desgagné, with support from Nada Kerpan for the texts by Linda Nochlin, as Les portraits de Renoir: Impressions d’une époque, exh. cat. (Gallimard/Musée des Beaux-Arts du Canada, 1997), pp. 50, n. 224; 149–51, cat. 26 (ill.); 290, cat. 26.

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 10–11; 30; 82, pl. 1; 109.

Art Institute of Chicago, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism in the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills, 2000), pp. 51 (ill.), 65.

John B. Collins, “Seeking l’Esprit Gaulois: Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette and Aspects of French Social History and Popular Culture” (Ph.D. diss., McGill University, 2001), p. 143.

Gilles Néret, Renoir: Painter of Happiness, 1841–1919, trans. Josephine Bacon (Taschen, 2001), pp. 188 (ill.), 202.

Sylvie Patin, L’impressionisme (Bibliothèque des Arts, 2002), pp. 164; 168, no. 128 (ill.); 299.

Norio Shimada, Inshoha bijutsukan [The history of impressionism] (Shogakukan, 2004), p. 91 (ill.).

Sylvie Patry, “L’invention du modèle,” in Serge Lemoine and Serge Toubiana, Renoir Renoir, exh. cat. (Martinière, 2005), p. 29, n. 8.

Susan Roe, The Private Lives of the Impressionists (Chatto & Windus, 2006), p. 211 (ill.).

Nathalia Brodskaïa, Impressionism, trans. Rebecca Brimacombe and Richard Swanson (Parkstone, 2007), pp. 170–71 (ill.).

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. 1, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 532, cat. 543 (ill.).

Frances Suzman Jowell, “Impressionism and the Golden Age of Dutch Art,” in Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past, ed. Ann Dumas, exh. cat. (Denver Art Museum/Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 93; 104, fig. 40.

Robert McDonald Parker, “Topographical Chronology 1860–1883,” in Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), p. 275. Translated as Robert McDonald Parker, “Chronologie,” in Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, trans. Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), p. 275.

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), pp. 62 (detail); 63, cat. 22 (ill.). Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 62 (detail); 63, cat. 22 (ill.).283

Adrien Goetz, Comment Regarder . . . Renoir (Hazan, 2009), p. 28 (ill.).

Peter Kropmanns, “Renoir’s Friendships with Fellow Artists,” in Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie; The Early Years, ed. Nina Zimmer, exh. cat. (Kunstmuseum Basel/Hatje Cantz, 2012), pp. 247 (ill.); 253, fig. 58; 254.

David Pullins, “Renoir and the Arts of Eighteenth-Century France,” in Renoir: Between Bohemia and Bourgeoisie; The Early Years, ed. Nina Zimmer, exh. cat. (Kunstmuseum Basel/Hatje Cantz, 2012), p. 264.

Other Documentation

Documentation from the Durand-Ruel Archives

Inventory number
Deposit Durand-Ruel Paris 3913, livre de dépôt Paris 1879–84284

Photograph number
Photo Durand-Ruel Paris 1221285

Bernheim-Jeune Documentation

Photograph number
Photo Bernheim-Jeune 10705286

Labels and Inscriptions

Undated

Inscription
Location: frame
Method: handwritten script (blue pen) on masking tape
Content: “Portrait of Alfred Sisley” / By Renoir #33.453 / Renoir Exhib. (fig. 2.31)

Pre-1980

Stamp
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: ovular stamp
Content: TOILES ET COULEURS FINES / REY & Cie / PARIS. / x [5]1 RUE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD x (fig. 2.15)287

Stamp
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: stamp
Content: 15 (fig. 2.46)

Stamp
Location: verso of original canvas (covered by lining)
Method: ovular stamp
Content: [. . .] / RE[Y] & [. . .] / PARI[S] / [. . .] RUE [. . .] (fig. 2.47)288

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: 33.453 (fig. 2.32)

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: 41 (fig. 2.33)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: handwritten script on printed label
Content: Collection George Viau / Boulevard Haussmann, 47 / No / Renoir / Portrait de Sisley [top left, partial script] Expos[. . .] / de Dresde[. . .] / 1904 [top right, partial script] Expo. / Durand Ru[. . .] / 191[. . .] [center right, partial script] Ex[. . .] (fig. 2.34)

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: 01442 (fig. 2.35)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); fragment preserved in conservation file
Method: handwritten script on blue-and-white label
Content: 41 / Renoir. / [. . .] 00 (fig. 2.45)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: printed label
Content: MAISON POTTIER (FONDÉE EN 1802) / CH. POTTIER / EMBALLEUR—PACKER / Spécialité pour Tableaux et Objets d’Art / 14, Rue Gaillon— / PARIS / Près l’Avenue de l’Opéra / 483 (fig. 2.36)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: typed label
Content: 2677 (fig. 2.37)

Stamp
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: stamp?
Content: Cahier / [. . .]onze / [. . .] / [. . .] (fig. 2.56)

Inscription
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: portrait du peintre / Sisley—[par] Renoir (fig. 2.38)

Number
Location: original stretcher (discarded); 1972 photograph in conservation file
Method: handwritten script
Content: 9 × 1[6] (fig. 2.39)

Label
Location: original stretcher (discarded); fragment preserved in conservation file
Method: printed label
Content: EXPOSITION D’[. . .] / 1[. . .]17—BARCE[. . .] (fig. 2.40)

Post-1980

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: printed and typed label with blue stamp
Content: FROM / THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / CHICAGO ILLINOIS 60603, U. S. A. / To / Renoir, Pierre Auguste / Alfred Sisley c. 1875–76 / 1933.453 [blue stamp, lower right] Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.41)

Label
Location: previous backing board (discarded); preserved in curatorial file
Method: printed and typed label with handwritten script
Content: [logo] National Gallery of Art / Washington, D.C. / Exhibition: THE NEW PAINTING: IMPRESSIONISM / 3-190 / Date: 1/17/86–4/6/86 / Cat. # 63 / Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir / Title: Portrait de M. Sisley / Lender: Art Institute of Chicago 1933.453 (fig. 2.42)

Label
Location: previous backing board (discarded); preserved in curatorial file
Method: typed label with handwritten script
Content: The New Painting: IMPRESSIONISM / National Gallery of Art 16 Jan.–6 April, 1986 / The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco / 19 April–6 July, 1986 / Title: Portrait de M. Sisley / Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir / Lender: The Art Institute of Chicago / Crate # 97 / Cat # 63 / 1933.453 (fig. 2.43)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed and typed label with handwritten script (red marker, graphite)
Content: [logo] Japan / YAMATO TRANSPORT CO.,LTD. / FINE ARTS DIVISION / EXHIBT. 1874: The Year of / Impressionism / 44 / CASE [Japanese characters] 8782-1 / NO. 131-[7?]2695906 / CATAL. IUP-IV/ NO. 8782-1 (fig. 2.49)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label
Content: Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age / Cat.No.: 26 / Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir / Title: Alfred Sisley / Owner: Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.50)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed and typed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / artist Renoir, Pierre Auguste / title Portrait of Alfred Sisley / medium oil on canvas / credit / acc. # 1933.453 (fig. 2.51)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed and typed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / “Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age” / October 17, 1997–January 4, 1998 / 26 / Pierr-Auguste [sic] Renoir / Alfred Sisley / The Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.48)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner. Scans were digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

Infrared Reflectography

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) and J filter (1.5–1.7 µm).

Transmitted Infrared

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm).

Visible Light

Natural-light, raking-light, and transmitted-light overalls and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-Resolution Visible Light (and Ultraviolet)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter).

Microscopy and Photomicrographs

Sample and cross-sectional analysis were performed using a Zeiss Axioplan2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/UV fluorescence and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: darkfield, brightfield, differential interference contrast (DIC), and UV. In situ photomicrographs were taken with a Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with an Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

Cross sections were analyzed after carbon coating with a Hitachi S-3400N-II VPSEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state BSE detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)

A Jobin Yvon Horiba LabRAM 300 confocal Raman microscope was used, equipped with an Andor multichannel, Peltier-cooled, open-electrode charge-coupled device detector (Andor DV420-OE322; 1024×256), an Olympus BXFM open microscope frame, a holographic notch filter, and an 1,800-grooves/mm dispersive grating.

The excitation line of an air-cooled, frequency-doubled, He-Ne laser (632.8 nm) was focused through a 20× objective onto the samples, and Raman scattering was back collected through the same microscope objective. Power at the samples was kept very low (never exceeding a few mW) by a series of neutral density filters in order to avoid any thermal damage.289

Automated Thread Counting

Thread count and weave information were determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.290

Image Registration Software

Overlay images were registered using a novel image-based algorithm developed by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.291

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.21).

cat. 4  Alfred Sisley, 1876.

fig. 1.2

Detail of the signature in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 1.1

Photomicrograph of the signature in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the dark-red paint mixture. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.20

Image of the stretcher verso during the 1972 treatment of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the original inscriptions and labels. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 1.3

Detail of the verso of the original stretcher of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the standard size stamp (15). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 1.4

Detail of the verso of the original stretcher of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the Rey & Cie color merchant stamp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.22

Transmitted-infrared (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) detail of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the Rey & Cie color merchant stamp on the verso of the now-lined canvas. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.23

Photomicrograph of the ground along the left edge of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.24

Photomicrograph of a cross section from Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the canvas and ground. Original magnification 100×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.25

Detail of the background on the upper right in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the zigzag brushwork. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.26

Detail of the background on the left in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing crosshatched brushwork. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.27

Photomicrograph of the figure’s forehead in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The artist scraped back the pale flesh tones to reveal the brighter colors underneath. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.28

Photomicrograph of the figure’s beard in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing variation in paint consistency. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.29

Detail of the chair back in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the textured strokes that make up the figure’s coat passing under the chair. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.30

Photomicrograph in UV light of a cross section from Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). Fluorescing red lake and nonfluorescing madder lake were both used in this paint mixture. Original magnification 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.31
fig. 2.32
fig. 2.33
fig. 2.34
fig. 2.35
fig. 2.36
fig. 2.37
fig. 2.38
fig. 2.39
fig. 2.40
fig. 2.41
fig. 2.42
fig. 2.43
fig. 2.49
fig. 2.50
fig. 2.51
fig. 2.48
fig. 2.52

Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453. Interactive image.

fig. 2.53

Weft-thread-density map of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the wide range of thread counts across the horizontal threads. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453. Image created by Don H. Johnson using Thread Count Automation Project software.

fig. 2.54

Transmitted-infrared (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) image of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). Fluid lines describing the main contours suggest that the artist executed a basic underdrawing before painting this portrait. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.55

Ultraviolet image of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.56
fig. 2.57

Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) in its original frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.58

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Alfred Sisley, 1864. Oil on canvas; 81 × 65 cm (31 7/8 × 25 5/8 in.). Fondation E. G. Bührle Collection, Zurich.

fig. 2.19

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). William Sisley, 1864. Oil on canvas; 81 × 65 cm (31 7/8 × 25 5/8 in.). Musée d’Orsay, Paris, RF 1952-3. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 3.60

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). The Couple, 1868. Oil on canvas; 105 × 75 cm (41 5/16 × 29 1/2 in.). Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud, Cologne, WRM 1199. bpk, Berlin/Photo: Hermann Buresch/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.5

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). The Inn of Mère Antony, 1866. Oil on canvas; 195 × 131 cm (76 3/4 × 51 9/16 in.). Nationalmuseum Stockholm, NM 2544. Scala/White Images/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.8

Alfred Sisley, c. 1882. Archives Durand-Ruel, Paris. © Durand-Ruel & Cie.

fig. 2.9

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Jeanne Samary (La Rêverie), 1877. Oil on canvas; 56 × 46 cm (22 1/16 × 18 1/8 in.). Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow. Scala/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.10

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1581/85–1666). Portrait of a Seated Man, c. 1645. Oil on oak; 42.4 × 33 cm (16 11/16 × 13 in.). National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 15901.

fig. 2.11

X-ray, reflected- and transmitted-infrared, and natural-light images of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453. Interactive image.

fig. 2.14

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Eugène Murer, 1877. Oil on canvas. 47.1 × 39.3 cm (18 9/16 × 15 1/2 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Collection, Bequest of Walter H. Annenberg, 2002, 2003.20.9. Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.17

Detail of the figure’s forehead in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing how the artist scraped through the upper paint layers to expose the reddish-orange underlayer. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.18

Detail of the figure’s beard in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the wide range of colors used by the artist. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.6

Detail of the figure’s left eye in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the variety of textures used by the artist. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.7

Inscription written on the original stretcher of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.12

Detail of the background near the right edge of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876). The haphazard brushwork in this area leaves the ground visible between paint strokes. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.13

Photomicrograph of Sisley’s left eye in Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) showing the bright yellow, green, and blue daubs added as final details. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.453.

fig. 2.16

Installation of Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) in Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 17, 1997–Jan. 4, 1998. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.15
fig. 2.47
fig. 2.46
fig. 2.45
fig. 2.44

Renoir’s Alfred Sisley (1876) in its original frame, on display in Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn’s Blackstone Hotel apartment. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

Loc/Neg #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
C19245UnknownUnknownUnknown 
C337428 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatment1968Normal, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentMar. 20, 1972Normal, verso
C376148 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatmentMay 11, 1972Normal, overall
ConservationX-rayUnknownMay 12, 1972Normal, partial
Conservation35 mm slidePosttreatment?May (1972?)Normal, overall (2 slides)
E105614 × 5 CTPretreatment1987Normal, overall
Conservation35 mm slideMidtreatmentJuly 30, 1992Normal, detail: cuff of sleeve (4 slides)
E329324 × 5 CTMidtreatmentDec. 31, 1996Normal, overall
E329984 × 5 CTPosttreatmentJan. 13, 1997Normal, overall
G28173DigitalPublicationFeb. 6, 2008Normal, overall
G28174DigitalPublicationFeb. 6, 2008Normal, detail: head
132370DigitalLoan examNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E32998 
ConservationX-rayOSCIOct. 15, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 15, 2009Normal, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 15, 2009Raking light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 15, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 15, 2009Infrared (Fuji 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 16, 2009Detail images of verso, frame, and  labels (17 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 19, 2009Detail images of surface (13 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 23, 2009Infrared (Inframetrics 1.5–1.73 µm filter),  overall; composite
ConservationDigitalOSCIOct. 29, 2009Macro details (4 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 2, 2009Raking light, overall
G32633DigitalOSCINov. 6, 2009Normal, overall
G32634DigitalOSCINov. 6, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
G32635DigitalOSCINov. 6, 2009Normal, detail; signature
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 9, 2009Photomicrographs of sample sites and surface (22 total)
G39052DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Normal, overall; composite of G39426–G39437
G39053DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Ultraviolet, overall
G39054DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012 Normal, frame only
G39426DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39427DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39428DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39429DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39430DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39431DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39432DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39433DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39434DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39435DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39436DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
G39437DigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Section
ConservationDigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Transmitted light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Transmitted infrared (Fuji 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIFeb. 1, 2012Transmitted infrared (Fuji 1000B/ 2mm filter), detail: stamp

 

fig. 2.21
 

Cat. 5

Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”)292
1877/78
Pen and brown ink, over black chalk, on ivory laid paper; 275 × 399 mm
The Art Institute of Chicago, Regenstein Collection, 1986.420

A group of six young women stand on a Paris street, close together, their arms intertwined. One strains forward, her chest pushed out, hands on hips. Behind, at the far right of the sheet, stand two men. One cups his hands to his mouth as if to shout; the other, more subdued, wears his cap tipped down. They wear smocks rather than jackets, perhaps just having left work. A man in a top hat stands before them; he hunches over a newspaper, ignoring their provocations. At the far left of the composition a family, presumably mother, father, and son, is distanced spatially and socially from the band of young women.

To read this image as a narrative is entirely appropriate. It illustrates a scene from Émile Zola’s L’assommoir, an exposé about hard drinking and its social consequences that caused something of a scandal in the late 1870s. The seventh in Zola’s series chronicling the Rougon-Macquart family, the story revolves around the laundress Gervaise. Her headstrong daughter Anna, nicknamed Nana, first appears to the reader toward the close of the book. In this drawing she appears simply as the most prominent of the cavorting adolescents.

Another drawing by the artist—now in the collection of Jean Bonna—is also clearly associated with L’assommoir. That sheet (fig. 2.25 [Dauberville 677]), a looser, more freely worked study executed in brush and ink, includes Zola’s inscription and even a page number at the bottom: “Off they went, the six of them, taking up the whole width of the road, arm in arm in their light dresses, their hair tied with ribbons.”293 It seems likely that the Art Institute’s version of the scene was produced in pen and ink because the Bonna drawing, lacking definition, would have been unsuitable for reproduction.294

Renoir did not make his illustration for the novel’s debut appearance in print. L’assommoir was serialized in 1876 in the democratic newspaper Le bien publique.295 In 1877 Georges Charpentier published it in full; its popularity soon necessitated reprints. Like Zola, Renoir found a supporter in Charpentier, and in the same year that he made the book illustrations, he painted the publisher’s wife (fig. 2.30 [Daulte 266; Dauberville 239]).296 The Art Institute’s work was commissioned by Charles Marpon and Ernest Flammarion for a deluxe edition of the novel published in 1878.297 They requested contributions from ten artists, including Henri Gervex, André Gill, Georges Clairin, and Frédéric Régamey. Renoir’s four contributions differed markedly from the others, which focused on the violence and unpleasantness of the novel. The sympathetic appearance of the present scene is in evident contrast to such images as Gill’s Fight between Gervaise and Virginie, in which the two characters attack one another ferociously, their bare legs and arms on show.298

In its multifigure composition and rich detail, Workers on the Outer Boulevard is the most elaborate of Renoir’s efforts for L’assommoir. Whether by design or coincidence, the subject of the passage was well suited to the artist’s flair for the sensual. The section in which the drawing appears tells of the fifteen-year-old Nana’s precocious beauty—“fully developed and no corset, with a real magpie face, milky complexion and skin as velvety as a peach.”299 Zola explains that Nana and her friends were born and raised on the streets—and, consequently, assumed ownership thereof—but Renoir subdues the vulgarity of the laughing, shouting characters even while depicting their exuberance. In the drawing, Nana is the third figure from the left among the group of girls. In a sheet in which the surface is mostly covered with a network of fine, closely spaced lines, Renoir’s relatively sparse use of media in her description makes her appear all the more vivid. An absence of ink creates an effect of falling light, which accentuates her bust and skirt, drawing attention to her curves. The artist emphasizes the attractiveness of the young women, perhaps mindful of Zola’s description of them “bursting their bodices by displaying their swelling forms.”300 Nana excited “obvious admiration”; an admiration, perhaps, that Renoir encouraged the viewer to ape.

There may have been no agenda behind the artist’s focus on the positive aspects of the text, but his dissatisfaction with Zola’s vision of the working classes may have informed his choice. Some years later, in conversation with the dealer Ambroise Vollard, Renoir recounted how he had frequented the salon of Madame Charpentier with Zola and others in the 1870s. Zola’s novel L’oeuvre (The Masterpiece), which depicts the life of a failed artist, had been the cause of many arguments in such circles, Renoir admitted, but his annoyance went beyond that infamous case. “I’ve always hated what he [Zola] writes,” he related. “When you want to paint an environment, you should start, so it seems to me, by putting yourself in your characters’ shoes. Zola, he is happy to open a little window, have a quick look outside, and assume that he has painted the people by saying that they smell bad.”301

In addition to being an unabashed sensualist, Renoir had a well-documented preference for uneducated women.302 Finding lack of sophistication a virtue, it is likely that he delighted in—rather than disapproved of—the type of girl that Zola found crude. It is clear that in major works of this era, including Dance at the Moulin de la Galette (fig. 2.26 [Daulte 209; Dauberville 211]), shown in the third Impressionist exhibition of 1877, Renoir portrayed women of Nana’s class in a sympathetic light.303 And in 1898, as the art historian Colin Bailey has noted, Julie Manet recorded that Renoir viewed Montmartre families as sensitive souls, in marked contrast to Zola’s description of them as “atrocious beings.”304

A painting of a laundress in the collection of the Art Institute (fig. 2.27 [cat. 6]) [Daulte 348; Dauberville 382]) also relates to L’assomoir and, once more, appears rather picturesque, given the novel’s general tone.305 Ostensibly it shows a washerwoman taking a moment’s pause. Renoir also revisited the theme  some years later, in Washerwomen (fig. 2.28 [Dauberville 948]) and in a lightly drawn study, Laundress (1885–89; Courtauld Gallery, London);306 but these quasi-pastoral images are far removed from the celebration of youthful idleness that is Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard.
Nancy Ireson

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”) is one of three known drawings of the same subject.307 This work is executed in pen and dark-brown ink on ivory [glossary:laid paper]. [glossary:Infrared reflectography] has captured the faint, slightly smudged [glossary:underdrawing] in black chalk that Renoir used to lay out the composition. The final composition in ink follows the initial chalk underdrawing quite faithfully, providing great detail, as seen in an infrared overlay comparison (fig. 2.24). There are some additional lines at the upper center area, although they do not appear to form discrete elements in the composition (fig. 1.2).

The brown ink lines are thin and fairly consistent in length and thickness. Crosshatching and closely spaced lines are used to establish shading and modeling, and an absence of line creates areas of highlights (fig. 1.1). The ink lines bleed together in the dog’s spots at the left lower area to form the densest passages in the composition (fig. 2.20). The pen lines are generally oriented vertically or diagonally from the lower left to upper right, as is characteristic of right-handed artists. Changes in the direction of line distinguish the various elements in the composition: for instance, the lines delineating the tree foliage in the upper left corner are oriented diagonally/horizontally, whereas those establishing the background shop walls are straight and vertical. Slight deformations of the paper can be seen in the ink lines due to the pressure of the fine pen nib on the paper.

Signature

Renoir (recto, lower left corner, in pen and brown ink) (fig. 1.4).

Media and Support

Support Characteristics
Primary paper type

Ivory, medium-thick, slightly textured laid paper.308

Watermark

BFK (for Rives BFK [Blanchet, Freres, & Kiebler]; in shield with two flowers and a crescent above and possibly a golden fleece below, complete, in center of sheet; 14.8 × 7.5 cm) (fig. 2.23).

Chain line orientation and frequency

Horizontal, 2.7 cm.

Laid line frequency

7–8 per cm.

Furnish

Uniform, without significant inclusions or colored fibers.

Formation

Even, likely machine made.

Other characteristics

All edges appear to have been trimmed and are slightly irregular.

Dimensions

275 × 399 mm.

Preparatory Layers

No artistic surface alterations or coatings are visible in normal conditions or under magnification. Under [glossary:UV] illumination, there is a light-yellow visible-light [glossary:fluorescence] overall on the paper surface that is characteristic of light gelatin surface [glossary:sizing]; the fluorescence is most pronounced around the perimeter where the window mat protected it from exposure to light.

Media Characteristics

The drawing was created in pen and brown ink over traces of black-chalk underdrawing; the ink lines are thin and fairly consistent in length and thickness.

Compositional Development

Black-chalk underdrawing is visible in the overall composition, as it was used initially to establish and define the figures before the drawing was worked out in pen and brown ink (fig. 2.24).

Surface Treatment

No artistic surface alterations or coatings are visible in normal conditions or under magnification. There is a light-yellow visible-light fluorescence that suggests the presence of light gelatin surface sizing.

Condition History

There are numerous losses and skinned areas along the edges on the verso, which may have resulted from the removal of a former edge mounting; the losses are filled. There is also light discoloration and staining from adhesive along the edges, visible on the recto. Soft undulations are visible in the sheet at the sides. There are faint inscriptions or smudges along the bottom edge. A strong vertical crease is visible through the center of the sheet; it is most evident on the verso. Dense areas of ink in the dog at the lower left penetrated through to the verso.
Kimberly Nichols

Provenance

Sold by Maurice Sachs (1906–1945), Paris, to De Hauke and Company, Inc., New York, July 1, 1929.309

Sold by De Hauke and Company, Inc., New York, to John Nicholas Brown II (1900–1979), Newport, R.I., Oct. 16, 1929.310

Estate of John Nicholas Brown II, Newport, R.I., from 1979.311

Sold by the estate of John Nicholas Brown II to David Tunick, Incorporated, New York, c. 1986.312

Sold by David Tunick, Incorporated, to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.

Exhibition History

New York, De Hauke and Company, Watercolors and Drawings of the 19th and 20th Century, Dec. 1929, no cat.313

Providence, Rhode Island School of Design, Drawings and Paintings from the Collection of Mr. John Nicholas Brown, Apr. 2–27, 1931, no. cat.314

Buffalo, N.Y., Albright Art Gallery, Master Drawings, Jan. 1935, cat. 122 (ill.).

New London, Conn., Lyman Allyn Museum, Drawings, Mar. 2–Apr. 15, 1936, cat. 162.

Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Art in New England, June 8–Sept. 10, 1939, cat. 200 (ill.).

San Francisco, Calif., Palace of Fine Arts, Master Drawings: An Exhibition of Drawings from American Museums and Private Collections, 1940, pp. 22, 87, cat. 85 (ill.).

Omaha, Neb., Joslyn Art Museum, Dec. 1941.315

San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, 19th Century French Drawings, Mar. 8–Apr. 6, 1947, p. 64, cat. 105 (ill.).

Rotterdam, Boymans Museum, French Drawings in American Collections, 1958, cat. 181, pl. 165; Paris, Musée de Orangerie, 1959; New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1959.

Newark, N.J., Newark Museum, Nineteenth Century Master Drawings, Mar. 16–Apr. 30, 1961, cat. 45 (ill.).

Cambridge, Mass., Fogg Art Museum, Forty Master Drawings from the Collection of John Nicholas Brown, Summer 1962, cat. 23.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces from the Helen Regenstein Collection, 1974–1989, Feb. 2–May 8, 1990, no cat.

New York, Frick Collection, From Pontormo to Seurat: Drawings Recently Acquired by The Art Institute of Chicago, Apr. 23–July 7, 1991, cat. 51; Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 10, 1991–Jan. 5, 1992.

Vienna, Albertina, Impressionism: Pastels, Watercolors, Drawings, Feb. 9–May 13, 2012, p. 239, cat. 138 (ill.).

Selected References

Théodore Duret, Histoire des peintres impressionistes (H. Floury, 1906), p. 102 (ill.).

Ambroise Vollard, La vie et l’oeuvre de Pierre-Auguste Renoir (A. Vollard, 1919), p. 161 (ill.).

Joachim Gasquet, “Le paradis de Renoir,” L’amour de l’art 2 (Feb. 1921) (ill.).

Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw (Houghton Mifflin, 1941), p. 98 (ill.).316

John Rewald, Renoir Drawings (H. Bittner, 1946), p. 15–16, no. 4 (ill.).

H. J. Wechsler, French Impressionists and Their Circle (Abrams, 1953), fig. 4, (ill.).

Ira Moskowitz, Great Drawings of All Time, vol. 3 (Shorewood, 1962), no. 798 (ill.).

Barbara Ehrlich White, Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters (Abrams, 1984) pp. 83–84 (ill.).

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989) n.p., fig. 2 (ill.).

Hollis Clayson, Painted Love: Prostitution in French Art of the Impressionist Era (Yale University Press, 1991) p. 73–75, fig. 39 (ill.).

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997) p. 31–37, 83, no. 5, 109 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures from The Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood, commentaries by Debra N. Mancoff (Art Institute of Chicago/Hudson Hills, 2000), p. 206 (ill.).

Martha Tedeschi, “Pierre Auguste Renoir, Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Emile Zola’s ‘L’Assommoir), 1877/78,” in “Maineri to Miró: The Regenstein Collection since 1975,” special issue, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 26, 1 (2000), pp. 78–79, no. 34 (ill.).

Suzanne Folds McCullagh, “‘A Lasting Monument’: The Regenstein Collection at The Art Institute of Chicago,” special issue, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 26, 1 (2000), p. 13.

Paul Hayes Tucker, “Renoir in the 1870s and ’80s: Modernity, Tradition, and Individuality,” in Renoir: From Outsider to Old Master, 1870–1892, exh. cat. (Chūnichi Shinbunsha, 2001), p. 220, fig. 11.

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins, et aquarelles, vol. 3, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 619, no. 664 (ill.).

Other Documentation

Inscriptions and Distinguishing Marks

Recto

Mark
Location: center bottom edge
Method: graphite
Content: possibly J or L C (erased)

Examination Conditions and Technical Analysis

Raking Visible Light

Paper support characteristics identified.

Transmitted Infrared (Fuji 1.0–1.1 μm)

Watermark captured.

Transmitted Visible Light

Paper mold characteristics identified.

Ultraviolet-Induced Visible Fluorescence (365 nm)

Light surface sizing detected.

Infrared Reflectography (Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter [1.0-1.1 µm])

Overall faint black-chalk underdrawing captured.

Stereomicroscopy (80–100×)

Media identified.

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Imaging Department and in the conservation and curatorial files in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.29).

cat. 5  Workers' Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola's "L'assommoir"), 1877/78.

fig. 1.2

Detail of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s "L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing faint additional black chalk lines between the figures. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 1.1

Detail of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s "L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing crosshatched lines used for shading. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 2.20

Detail of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s "L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing the finely spaced lines that bleed together to form the dog’s spots. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 1.3

Detail of Renoir's Workers' Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola's "L'assommoir") (1877/78) showing how the line direction has shifted in order to establish form. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 1.4

Detail of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s "L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing Renoir’s signature in pen and brown ink. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 2.22

Infrared (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) and natural-light images of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”) (1877/78) revealing the black-chalk underdrawing beneath the final pen and brown-ink lines. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420. Interactive image.

fig. 2.23

Detail of transmitted-infrared image (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing the sheet’s watermark. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 2.24

Infrared image (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) of Renoir’s Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”) (1877/78) showing the black-chalk underdrawing. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1986.420.

fig. 2.25

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Les filles d’ouvriers se promenant sur le boulevard extérieur, n.d. Ink wash over crayon; 29 × 43 cm (11 7/16 × 16 15/16 in.). Jean Bonna Collection.

fig. 2.26

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Dance at the Moulin de la Galette, 1876. Oil on canvas; 131 × 175 cm (51 9/16 × 68 15/16 in.). Musée d’Orsay, Paris, bequest of Gustave Caillebotte, 1894, RF 2739. Gianni Dagli Orti/The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.27

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919). The Laundress, 1877/79. Oil on canvas; 80 .8 × 56.5 cm (31 13/16 × 22 1/4 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1947.102.

fig. 2.28

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Washerwomen, c. 1886. Oil on canvas; 56.5 × 47.5 cm (22 1/4 × 18 11/16 in.). The Baltimore Museum of Art, London, The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, 1950.282.

Loc/Neg#FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
E102434 × 5 CT UnknownRecto
D1432035 mm slide UnknownRecto
G40591Digital 3-Jul-12Recto
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 10, 2012Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), recto, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCISept. 12, 2013Transmitted infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), watermark

 

fig. 2.29
fig. 2.30

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children, 1878. Oil on canvas; 153.7 × 190.2 cm (60 1/2 × 74 7/8 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, 07.122. Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

 

 

Cat. 6

The Laundress317
1877/79318
Oil on canvas; 80.8 × 56.5 cm (31 13/16 × 22 1/4 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1947.102

Origins and Innovations

The theme of the laundress was prevalent in the visual and literary culture of middle-class nineteenth-century France. Aside from Edgar Degas, however, the Impressionists did not regularly take up this subject in their paintings of modern life; when the theme did appear in Impressionist work, it was typically “subordinated to the atmospheric surroundings.”319 The Laundress is indeed an anomaly in the oeuvre of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Although he returned to the subject in the mid-1880s and later—though only a handful of times—this canvas is likely the artist’s first and only incorporation of the motif during the time when he was actively engaged with the concerns of Impressionism.

As noted by Douglas Druick, Renoir probably made The Laundress—which is signed, but not dated—after completing his illustrations for Émile Zola’s gritty novel L’assommoir, a tragic tale centered around a laundress named Gervaise Macquart, which exposed the blight of poverty and alcoholism in contemporary working-class Paris.320 Originally published by Renoir’s patron, Georges Charpentier, in 1877, the first illustrated edition of L’assommoir appeared the following year. At Zola’s request, Renoir created four illustrations for it. But while Zola could present his vivid narrative with words, Renoir had to find a way to visualize select scenes in a two-dimensional format. As the Art Institute’s original drawing for one of the illustrations (fig. 1.2 (cat. 5) demonstrates, the artist—using pen, brown ink, and black chalk—combined areas of shading with a web of thin, scratchy lines in order to produce a vibrating surface that teems with an almost restless energy.

By the mid-1870s, Renoir was also creating similar effects in his paintings, as The Laundress exemplifies. Using a limited palette and a variety of techniques, he crafted a shimmering surface through a complex, built-up network of feathery brushstrokes. Combined with some areas of smooth modeling and heavy impasto, Renoir’s brushwork and use of complementary-color contrasts construct a tapestry of textures to suggest space and form. Precise contours were dissolved and details of the background were obscured as the artist decreased the density of his web of brushstrokes around the edges of the painting, allowing more of the warm gray ground layer to peek through (fig. 1.1).

The casualness of Renoir’s brushstrokes and the confidence demonstrated by his use of [glossary:wet-in-wet] paint and his juxtaposition of individual strokes of unmixed, bold color to create areas like the figure’s hair (fig. 2.20) suggest that he executed this painting quickly. It seems that he actually developed it relatively systematically, however. The traditional triangular composition provides stability to the otherwise vibrating surface, and [glossary:X-ray] imaging indicates that the artist reinforced this form by straightening out the hemline of the model’s skirt (fig. 1.3).

Renoir also altered the posture of the model as he worked out his composition. In an earlier state of the painting, the figure was slightly more frontal, and her elbows projected out from her body more symmetrically. By adjusting her arms and both sides of her skirt, Renoir shifted her body ever so slightly to a three-quarter angle. The alteration he made to her left arm is still visible with the naked eye: flesh tones appear around the area where her wrist meets her awkwardly disproportionate hand (fig. 1.4). Renoir also lowered the height of her hair and the frothy pile of laundry beside her in order to achieve the exact balance that he was seeking.

Genre and Portraiture

There is something very deliberate and even disconcerting about the way Renoir constructed—or rather, deconstructed—his young laundress. The model for this painting was identified by François Daulte as Nini Lopez, whom Renoir employed regularly between approximately 1874 and 1880.321 A resident of Montmartre, the Parisian quarter where Renoir moved in the summer of 1876, Nini was characterized by critic Georges Rivière as the ideal model, for she was “punctual, serious, [and] discreet.”322 But while she can be identified in The Laundress, this is not a portrait; her features are generalized and dissolve into a frenzy of brushstrokes. Instead, Renoir depicted a Parisian type—in this case, a young, working-class girl.323

Renoir also used Nini as his model in another, probably slightly earlier painting entitled First Step (Le premier pas) (fig. 2.22 [Daulte 347; Dauberville 250]). In this picture, however, Nini—who appears to be wearing the same blouse and skirt that she wore when posing for The Laundress—seems to embody a different type of Parisian woman. The figure that Renoir presented in Le premier pas is more refined and polished. Her facial features—though still generalized—are more delicate; using minimized brushstrokes, Renoir gave her skin a porcelain-like finish that glows like mother-of-pearl. Set in what appears to be the interior of a bourgeois dwelling—as indicated by the richly patterned, colorful carpet underfoot—she looks lovingly at a child, encouraging it to take its first steps. In many ways, Renoir made Nini a radiant, modern Madonna in this painting.

But, simultaneously, Renoir infused a degree of ambiguity in Le premier pas that makes us question this characterization. While both of Nini’s shoulders are covered, the hint of cleavage revealed as she leans toward the child highlights her sexuality; she is both demure and provocative. Her garment is simple and pulled together with the red sash at her waist, but its silhouette is not of the period. As a result of her pose, the waist appears to be cinched higher than was fashionable at the time, recalling instead coquettish Rococo fashion. Moreover, a white garment and striped socks draped over the chair suggest two possible identities for the woman. Perhaps she is the child’s mother and lady of the house awaiting the arrival of her laundress through the half-open door at right, or she might be a domestic caring for the child before undertaking her laundry chores, a woman who might even be sexually available. At this time, Renoir’s audience would have been aware that working women were known to sometimes supplement their incomes with prostitution.324

Meaning and Method

As part of the Impressionist group, Renoir was interested in depicting themes of modern life, but his worldview was much more tempered than those of Zola and some of his other Naturalist and Impressionist colleagues. Even in his own era Renoir was accused of viewing the world with rose-colored glasses. As John House has explained, “Even in their original contexts, the vision of the world presented by Renoir’s canvases was escapist; his smiling world-view was an attempt to erase the fundamental anxieties of the late nineteenth century, about the breakdown of order and of the sense of social and personal identity in a society that was rapidly changing, with the emergence of industrialisation and urban capitalism.”325

But however tame Renoir’s imagery may seem, the subtle ambiguities that he infused into Le premier pas remind us of the disconnects between class and gender in modern life and highlight the difficulty of expressing these ideas visually on a flat surface. Such uncertainties are even more exaggerated in The Laundress. Despite its similarities to Le premier pas, The Laundress is radically different in execution. The artist’s brushwork recalls the graphic, hatched quality of the drawings he made for Zola’s novel, which he also employed in a painted portrait of his friend and fellow Impressionist painter Alfred Sisley (fig. 2.23 [cat. 4]).

In large part because of the nature of the paint handling, much of the painting is impossible to read. Aside from the laundress, very few details of the composition can be definitively identified: the model stands next to a half-open door, on the other side of which is a completely illegible space; to the left of the laundress, there is only a vague impression of a yellow table or chair in what appears to be a hallway or another room; shadows on the floor do not consistently correspond with the light source coming from the upper left; and the clothes in the laundry basket—composed of swirls of paint—are not identifiable (fig. 2.24).

It is also curious that although the surface of The Laundress pulsates insistently, no substantial action is being depicted in the scene. With her flushed face, reddened hands, and basket of unfolded laundry sitting on the floor next to her, the laundress’s work is evident; this is perhaps the moment after the laundry was washed but before it was ironed, for the streaks of blue visible throughout the laundry pile may indicate that it has just been treated with bluing, a product used during laundering to enhance whitening. But in this particular moment, as Druick has observed, the laundress is not actively undertaking difficult labor, and there is no reason for her blouse to have slipped off of one of her shoulders.326 Renoir’s depiction of the young woman with décolletage—a motif he would feature in many other paintings of young women throughout his career—encourages a sexual, voyeuristic reading.327 At the same time that the young woman exhibits sexual and social vulnerability, however, she also conveys a sense of defiance. Solidly placed in the center of the composition with her hands on her hips, she has a certain resolve and confidence that suggests she is perhaps more in control of her own destiny than Zola’s laundress, Gervaise.

In the 1880s, Renoir abandoned his pursuit of urban, modern-life subjects and his broken, textured brushwork for more timeless, idyllic imagery inspired by the French countryside and the more precise forms and techniques of the Old Masters. When he picked up the theme of the laundress again nearly ten years later, his model was not Nini Lopez but rather his future wife, Aline Charigot, holding their first son, Pierre (fig. 2.25). Although his 1870s depiction speaks to the modern life of the city, Renoir—from the mid-1880s onward—related the theme of the laundress to the country, nature, hard work, and maternity.
Gloria Groom and Jill Shaw

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir began this work on a warm-gray, [glossary:commercially primed] [glossary:canvas]; the color of the [glossary:priming] is visible in many areas of the background and gives the work a unifying undertone. The original size of the composition is unclear; however, it appears that the work may have been slightly larger than a standard size. Unfinished edges and individual brushstrokes that pass onto the tacking margin complicate an assessment of the painting’s original size. There is no discernible compositional planning, and the [glossary:X-ray] and infrared images show that the artist shifted the pose of the figure through a series of small alterations in the paint stages. Initially, the figure’s gaze was more frontal, her hair pulled tighter toward the top of the head, her hips pushed slightly to the right, and the hem of her skirt shorter on the sides, making her appear longer in relation to her surroundings than she does in the final composition. Renoir also made slight changes in the placement of her arms, especially her left one, some of which are visible under normal viewing conditions.

The artist used a limited [glossary:palette] and varied the size and concentration of brushstrokes throughout the work. In the figure, areas of very fine strokes of unmixed color placed side by side while still wet contrast with smoothly modeled areas and heavy [glossary:impasto] created by dragging stiff paint with a fine, soft brush. These effects are seen in the figure’s hair, skirt, and blouse, respectively. The flesh tones—primarily lead white with some vermilion and red lake—were modeled with a combination of these methods. As the artist moved from the figure to her surroundings, covering his compositional changes with strokes of background colors, the composition became less detailed, marked by broader brushstrokes and large areas of exposed ground.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 2.26).328

Signature/Distinguishing Marks

Signed (lower left, in warm blue paint): Renoir. (fig. 2.27 and fig. 2.28).329

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).330

Standard format

As there is no obvious painted edge, the original size of the canvas is unclear and depends largely on whether the [glossary:stretcher] is original. If this is the original stretcher, the dimensions appear to have been approximately 80.7 × 56 cm. The closest standard sizes are seascape ([glossary:marine]) 25 [glossary:haute] and [glossary:basse], which measure 81 × 54 cm and 81 × 56.7 cm, respectively.331

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 16.4V (0.7) × 13.8H (0.4) threads/cm. The horizontal threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the vertical threads to the [glossary:weft].332

Canvas characteristics

There is mild cusping along the top and bottom edges corresponding to the placement of the original tacks and some variation in thread thickness in both directions. The thread-count [glossary:weft-angle map] also indicates two places in the upper right quadrant where there was a [glossary:warp-thread repair], causing the perpendicular weft threads to distort around it (fig. 2.29).333

Stretching

Current stretching: The painting was lined and restretched prior to 1956 (see Conservation History). It is unclear if the dimensions changed during this treatment. The X-ray indicates that although some of the old tack holes were reused at this time, cusping along the top and bottom edges does not correspond to current tack placement. Where the tacking margin is not obscured by paper tape, it appears the painting is currently attached with steel tacks through both the original and [glossary:lining] canvases.

Original stretching: As the edges are largely covered with paper tape, it is not clear how many times the painting was stretched. Based on cusping visible along the top and bottom  in the X-ray, tacks were placed approximately 5–7 cm apart. There is almost no discernible scalloping in the weft-angle map or the X-ray for the left side and very little information on the right. Along the right edge, there is a crease approximately 0.5 cm from the edge, and a corresponding set of extra tack holes appears just beyond the current foldover. These holes are not always visible but may correspond to the faint angle changes illustrating cusping on the right edge in the weft-angle map (fig. 2.30). If this crease represents an earlier foldover, the width of the painting would be about 56 cm. Gaps between stretcher members on the verso suggest that closing the members of the current, expanded stretcher (tapping in) would accommodate this 0.5 cm.

While the height of this painting corresponds to a standard size, the width has a larger discrepancy. The edges of the composition are not clear, as they are often unfinished or have brushstrokes running over the foldover, but there is no physical evidence to suggest the work was ever smaller than 56 cm wide.334

Stretcher/strainer

Current stretcher: Six-member keyable mortise-and-tenon stretcher with vertical and horizontal crossbars.

The stretcher may be original to the painting, but this remains unclear, as the painting was lined, mounted to [glossary:hardboard], and restretched (see Conservation History). The stretcher’s structure and patina suggest that if it is not original to the painting, it was added early in the painting’s lifetime (fig. 2.31). Depth: 1.7 cm.

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

[glossary:Cross-sectional analysis] indicates a thin brownish layer of material between the paint and canvas that closely follows the canvas texture. This material is organic in nature and estimated to be glue (fig. 2.32).335

Ground application/texture

The preparation is a two-layered (or [glossary:lisse]), commercially applied [glossary:ground] that extends to the edges of the [glossary:tacking margins]. The lower layer of the ground has an approximate thickness of 10–60 µm, while the upper, toned layer is approximately 15–45 µm thick. It is smooth, somewhat fills the canvas weave, and is left visible throughout the background.

Color

The upper ground layer is a warm gray, with black and yellow particles visible microscopically. Microscopic examination reveals the creamy white initial ground layer visible along the tops of some of the abraded threads (fig. 2.33).

Materials/composition

The commercial ground is a two-layered preparation with a whitish first layer consisting of primarily lead white with small amounts of iron oxide yellow, associated silicates, barium sulfate, and calcium sulfate. The upper layer is a warm gray made of a complex mixture of lead white, bone black, and iron oxide red and yellow, with associated complex silicates, quartz, calcium sulfate, and a trace amount of Naples yellow (fig. 2.34).336 Both layers are estimated to be bound in an [glossary:oil] medium.337

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch
Extent/character

No compositional planning visible with infrared or microscopy.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

Renoir made many changes to the figure’s posture in The Laundress. There are heavy strokes of underpaint above and to the right of the figure that may mask some changes (fig. 2.35); however, a number of small later changes can still be discerned on the painting’s surface. X-ray analysis suggests that the skirt was originally placed slightly to the right, with a lower red waistband (fig. 2.36), as if the figure were shifting her weight slightly to one side. In response, the artist swung her left arm farther out to the side, while her right arm was placed slightly closer to her body (fig. 2.37). Some of the changes to the figure’s arms and hands were made quickly and remain visible on the work’s surface (fig. 2.38). The initial profile of the woman’s left arm and hand were roughly painted out with fine background strokes. Close examination of the surface reveals flesh tones visible between these fine strokes along the outer edge of the arm and hand. From the [glossary:infrared reflectogram] (IRR) and X-ray, it appears that the artist may have moved the figure’s left arm more than once, as the flesh tone extends under the background paint for a distance. Specific movements are difficult to discern, however. Renoir also quickly indicated an extension of the figure’s blouse at the neckline, bringing up the top slightly near her left shoulder. Initially, the skirt’s profile appeared thinner and the figure seemed to be turned more toward the viewer (fig. 2.26). [glossary:Raking light] and infrared examination also indicate changes to her hairstyle in the final version of the painting: her bun was higher on her head and more tightly held in place with a dark band. The general effect of these changes is that the figure appears bulkier, with a less defined waist. Renoir also reduced the laundry pile at the lower right, adding a bright red background to trim the upper edge of the pile.

 

Renoir used wider brushstrokes toward the edges of the picture, in the laundry, and along the right side, which broadly contrast with the densely applied, finer strokes associated with the figure (fig. 2.39) and her immediate surroundings. After masking some compositional changes with heavy strokes of paint that tonally mimic the ground color, he continued changing the figure’s posture. The composition’s background wraps around the figure in fine, separate strokes, often directly covering later pentimenti. Renoir alternated individual strokes of unmixed, bold color placed side by side, as in the figure’s hair (fig. 2.40), with more blended, softer transitions between colors and crisscross patterns, as in the skirt. In some areas, soft, fine brushes dragged stiff paint across the surface, leaving heavy impasto with small peaks from lifting the brush (fig. 2.41). The flesh tones appear to alternate between these three techniques; the artist began with a smoother modeling that he later textured with heavy impasto and directional strokes. In other areas, such as the laundry pile and the figure’s blouse, he utilized stiff-bristled brushes, leaving a heavy texture in the paint surface.

Painting tools

Very fine brushes, flat and round, up to 1 cm width.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following [glossary:pigments]:338 lead white, vermilion, two red lakes,339 chrome yellow, cobalt blue, cerulean blue,340 emerald green, iron oxide red and/or iron oxide yellow, and bone black.

[glossary:UV] examination suggests the presence of fluorescing red lake, particularly in the flesh tones and limited portions of the background, based on the observation of a characteristic, orange [glossary:fluorescence] (fig. 2.42).341 Visible through microscopic analysis of the surface and [glossary:cross sections] of other portions of the composition, such as the background along the left edge, is a second, nonfluorescing red lake.

Binding media

Oil (estimated).342

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

The current [glossary:synthetic varnish] was applied in 1969 and replaced a different synthetic varnish from the 1956–57 treatment. Application of this earlier synthetic varnish followed removal of a discolored oil-resin [glossary:varnish]. As the painting was already lined at the time of this treatment (1956–57), it is unclear whether the oil-resin varnish was original to the painting.

Conservation History

The painting has had two documented treatments since acquisition. The earliest notes on the painting come from a 1937 memo indicating that the canvas was in good condition and the frame miters were opening.343 By 1956 the painting was noted as lined and mounted to a board (either a thin wooden panel or a Masonite-type hardboard), with a secondary, unprimed fabric on the verso of the board, indicating previous undocumented treatment.344 Although lined, the painting retained its stretcher; the stretcher is either original or evidence of a very early treatment. In January 1957, the work was treated, and an oil-resin varnish was removed along with a heavy layer of grime using a combination of solvent and mechanical cleaning.345 The work was given a spray coat of synthetic varnish (n/butyl isobutyl methacrylate copolymer resin); [glossary:retouching] was not deemed necessary at the time. In 1969 the work was given a second aesthetic treatment during which the 1957 varnish was removed and replaced with three coats of synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA).346

Condition Summary

The work is in good condition, aqueously lined to a secondary canvas and mounted to an unidentified thin panel. The panel features unprimed canvas on its verso and therefore cannot be positively identified. The panel is concave, creating a slightly dished appearance, but appears stable at this time. There are minimal localized losses to the paint layer, cracking throughout the sections of blue paint (including the skirt and the background left of center), and stretcher-bar creases corresponding to the horizontal [glossary:crossbar]. Along the foldover on all sides, there is abrasion and grime, in addition to localized cracking of both the paint and the support resulting from the lining process.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

Current frame (installed after 1948): The frame is not original to the painting. It is a French, late-eighteenth-century, Louis XVI, scotia frame with acanthus leaves, beading, and leaf-and-tongue sight molding. The frame has water and oil gilding over red bole on gesso. The ornament and outer fillet are burnished. The frame sustained water damage and was subsequently painted with bronze powder paint. It retains most of the original gilding, except on the heavily damaged bottom section. The carved oak molding is mitered and joined with angled, dovetailed splines. At some point in the frame’s history, the original verso was planed flat, removing all construction history and provenance, a back frame was added, and all back and interior surfaces were painted. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is fillet; scotia side; stepped fillet; scotia with acanthus leaves and beaded fillet; frieze; fillet; ogee with leaf-and-tongue ornament; fillet with a cove sight edge; and an independent fillet liner with a cove sight edge that was added when the painting was paired with the frame (fig. 2.43).347

Previous frame (installed by 1948): The work was previously housed in a late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century, Louis XIV reproduction, reverse ogee frame with cast plaster anthemia corner cartouches and shell center cartouches linked by foliate scrollwork (fig. 2.18).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Possibly sold by the artist to Durand-Ruel, Paris, June 15, 1882.348

Sold by Durand-Ruel, Paris, to Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, Aug. 3, 1905, for 8,500 francs.349

Sold by Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, to the Prince de Wagram (Alexandre Berthier, 4th Prince de Wagram), Paris, by Feb. 24, 1906.350

Resold by the Prince de Wagram (Alexandre Berthier, 4th Prince de Wagram), Paris, to Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, Feb. 24, 1906, for 9,000 francs.351

Possibly sold by Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, to Léon Orosdi, Paris (died 1922), Mar. 2, 1906.352

Acquired by Galérie Barbazanges, Paris, by Jan. 4, 1923.353

Acquired by Meyer Goodfriend, New York and Paris, by Jan. 4, 1923.354

Sold at the sale of Meyer Goodfriend, New York and Paris, New American Art Galleries, New York, Jan. 5, 1923, lot 109, to John Levy Galleries, New York, for $2,000.355

Acquired by Howard Young, New York, by Mar. 28, 1923.356

Sold by Howard Young, New York, to Charles H. Worcester, Chicago, by Mar. 28, 1923.357

Given by Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.358

Exhibition History

Paris, Galeries Durand-Ruel, Exposition A. Renoir, May 1892, cat. 8, as Laveuse.359

Art Institute of Chicago, Exhibition of the Worcester Collection, July 24–Sept. 23, 1923, no cat.360

Toledo Museum of Art, Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, Nov. 7–Dec. 12, 1937, cat. 30 (ill.).

New York, Wildenstein, Renoir: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the American Association of Museums in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Renoir’s Death, Mar. 27–May 3, 1969, cat. 37 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 31 (ill.).

Atlanta, High Museum of Art, May 25, 1984–May 30, 1985, no cat.361

Tokyo, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Renoir: From Outsider to Old Master, 1870–1892, Feb. 10–Apr. 15, 2001, cat. 13 (ill.); Nagoya City Art Museum, Apr. 21–June 24, 2001.

Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art, Renoir’s Women, Sept. 23, 2005–Jan. 8, 2006, cat. 2.

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 25 (ill.).

Selected References

Galeries Durand-Ruel, Exposition A. Renoir, exh. cat. (Imp. de l’Art, E. Ménard et Cie, 1892), p. 37, cat. 8.

“Renoir Painting Sold for $7,000,” New York Times, Jan. 6, 1923, p. 13.

Toledo Museum of Art, Paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, exh. cat. (Toledo Museum of Art, 1937), n.pag., cat. 30 (ill.).

Daniel Catton Rich, Catalogue of the Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection of Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings (Lakeside, 1938), pp. 77–78; pl. 46/cat. 80.

Edith Weigle, “Gift of Art,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 25, 1947, p. C6 (ill.).

“Donor to Get Honor Degree at Art Institute,” Chicago Daily Tribune, June 13, 1947, p. 21.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Complete List of Works,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 41, 5 [pt. 3] (Sept.–Oct. 1947), p. 63.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Magnificent Worcester Gift,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 42, 2, pt. 3 (Feb. 1948), p. 4 (ill.).

Frederick A. Sweet, “The Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection,” Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly 50, 3 (Sept. 15, 1956), p. 44.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961; reissue, 1968), p. 396.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84, 55 (Sept. 1966), p. 203.

François Daulte, Renoir: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the American Association of Museums in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Renoir’s Death, exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 1969), cat. 37 (ill.).

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 1, Figures, 1860–1890 (Durand-Ruel, 1971), pp. 254–55, cat. 348 (ill.); 416.

Elda Fezzi, L’opera completa di Renoir, nel periodo impressionista, 1869–1883, Classici dell’arte 59 (Rizzoli, 1972), p. 108, cat. 434 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 26; 86; 90–91, cat. 31 (ill.).

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989), p. 153, cat. 8 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago, with an introduction by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1993), p. 79 (ill.).

Gerhard Gruitrooy, Renoir: A Master of Impressionism (Todtri Productions, 1994), p. 109 (ill.).

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 30; 37–38; 87, pl. 6; 108 (detail).

Katsunori Fukaya, “The Laundress,” in Bridgestone Museum of Art and Nagoya City Art Museum, Renoir: From Outsider to Old Master, 1870–1892, exh. cat. (Bridgestone Museum of Art/Nagoya City Art Museum/Chunichi Shimbun, 2001), pp. 82–83, cat. 13 (ill.).

Paul Hayes Tucker, “Renoir in the 1870s and ’80s: Modernity, Tradition, and Individuality,” in Bridgestone Museum of Art and Nagoya City Art Museum, Renoir: From Outsider to Old Master, 1870–1892, trans. Yumiko Yamazaki and Yuko Tatsuno, exh. cat. (Bridgestone Museum of Art/Nagoya City Art Museum/Chunichi Shimbun, 2001), pp. 37–38, 223.

Ann Dumas and John Collins, Renoir’s Women, exh. cat. (Columbus Museum of Art/Merrell, 2005), pp. 11, fig. 2; 118.

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, 1858–1881, vol. 1 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 409, cat. 382 (ill.).

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), pp. 17; 68–69, cat. 25 (ill.). Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale Unversity Press, 2008), pp. 17; 68-69, cat. 25 (ill.).362

Anne Distel, Renoir, Les Phares (Citadelles et Mazenod, 2009), pp. 158–59, ill. 142; 310.

Other Documentation

Documentation from the Durand-Ruel Archives

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel Paris 2464. Ce tableau a peut-être été acheté à l’artiste par Durand-Ruel le 15 juin 1882, livre de stock Paris 1880–84, stock no. 2464.363

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel Paris 1520. Blanchisseuse, Livre de stock Paris 1891; Blanchisseuse, livre de stock Paris 1901.364

Photograph number
Photo Durand-Ruel Paris 1647. Blanchisseuse, photo entre 1899 et 1901.365

Documentation from the Bernheim-Jeune Archives

Inventory number
No. de stock Bernheim-Jeune 1485352366

Photograph number
Photographie Bernheim-Jeune no. 1066553367

Labels and Inscriptions

Undated

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: #18799 (fig. 2.49)

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: blue label
Content: [blank] (fig. 2.49)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 30 [circled and crossed out] (fig. 2.49)

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: P (fig. 2.49)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: red stamp
Content: 2096 (fig. 2.52)

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite) on red-and-white label
Content: 1828/2 (fig. 2.50)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: stamp
Content: 341[6]7 (fig. 2.19)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 580 (fig. 2.11)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 1337 [?] (fig. 2.10)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 2093 (fig. 2.9)

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: red stamp on label
Content: 1337 (fig. 2.5)

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 289 / 34167 / XR 118 (fig. 2.54)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 409 [crossed out] (fig. 2.55)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 14426 [crossed out] (fig. 2.55)

Label 
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (red pencil) on red-and-white label
Content: M [ . . . ] / 268 (fig. 2.56)

Pre-1980

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: DR [ . . . ] / 1520 (fig. 3.60)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: red stamp
Content: 14853 (fig. 2.57)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (pen)
Content: 1947.102 (fig. 2.8)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: hand-painted script
Content: 47.102 (fig. 2.49)

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: typed label
Content: THE LAUNDRESS by RENOIR / PROPERTY OF THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / GIFT CHARLES H. AND MARY F. S. WORCESTER, / AS PART OF THE [WOR]CESTER COLLECTION (fig. 2.48)

Post-1980

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: printed/typed label
Content: FROM / THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / CHICAGO ILLINOIS 60603, U.S.A. / To / Renoir, Pierre Auguste / Inventory 1980–1981 / The Laundress c. 1880 / 1947.102 (fig. 2.51)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, films scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner.

Infrared Reflectography (IRR)

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) J filter (1.5–1.7 µm); X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.7 µm).

Visible light

Normal light, raking light, transmitted light overalls, and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet light

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-resolution visible light (and ultraviolet light)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (B+W 486 UV/IR cut MRC filter).

Microscopy and photomicrographs (sample and cross-section analysis)

Sample and cross-sectional analysis using Zeiss Axioplan2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/UV fluorescence and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: darkfield, differential interference contrast (DIC), and UV. In situ photomicrographs with Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube ; Bruker ArTAX.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy coupled with Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

Cross sections analyzed after carbon coating with Hitachi S-3400N-II VPSEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state BSE detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Automated thread counting

Thread count and weave information determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.368

Image registration

Overlay images registered by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., using a novel image-based correlation algorithm.369

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.6).

cat. 6  The Laundress, 1877/79.

fig. 1.2

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Workers’ Daughters on the Outer Boulevard (Illustration for Émile Zola’s “L’assommoir”), 1877/78. Pen and brown ink, over black chalk, on ivory laid paper; 275 × 399 mm. The Art Institute of Chicago, Regenstein Collection, 1986.420.

fig. 1.1

Detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the exposed ground. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.20

Detail of the figure’s hair in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing individual brushstrokes of unmixed color. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 1.3

X-ray, natural-light, and infrared reflectogram (Goodrich, 1.0–1.7 µm) images of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing changes made by the artist. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102. Interactive image.

fig. 1.4

Detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the figure’s left forearm. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.22

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Le premier pas, 1876. Oil on canvas; 111 × 80.5 cm (43 11/16 × 31 11/16 in.). Sold, Christie’s, London, Feb. 4, 2002, lot 17. Photograph © Christie’s Images/Bridgeman Images.

 

fig. 2.23

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Alfred Sisley, 1876. Oil on canvas; 66.2 × 54.8 cm (26 × 21 9/16 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1933.453.

fig. 2.24

Detail of the laundry basket in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.25

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Mother and Child, 1886. Pastel; 79.1 × 63.5 cm (31 1/8 × 25 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, bequest of Alexander Ginn 1977.167. Photograph © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

fig. 2.26

Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102. Interactive image.

fig. 2.27

Detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the artist’s signature. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.28

Photomicrograph of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the different paint colors used in the signature. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.29

Weft-angle map of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing areas of warp-thread repair with an X-ray detail showing an area of visible warp-thread repair. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.30

Detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing previous tack holes just beyond the current foldover. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.31

Verso of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the keyable stretcher and labels. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.32

Photomicrograph of a cross section of the ground and canvas in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79). Original magnification: 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.33

Photomicrograph of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing areas of abrasion that reveal lower white ground layer and canvas threads. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.34

Photomicograph of a cross section of the ground with blue and yellow paint layers in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79). Original magnification: 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.35

Raking-light detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the heavy paint application around the figure covering the changes made by the artist. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.36

Photomicrograph of the figure’s waistband in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing exposed red paint from an earlier compositional stage. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.37

Infrared reflectogram (Goodrich, 0.9-1.7 µm), X-ray, infrared reflectogram (Fuji, 1.0-1.1µm), and natural-light details of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing changes made by the artist to the position of the figure. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102. Interactive image.

fig. 2.38

Detail of the figure’s left arm in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing changes made by the artist that remain visible. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.39

Detail of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the very fine brushwork used for the figure. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.40

Detail of the figure’s hair in Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing individual brushstrokes of unmixed color. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.41

Photomicrograph of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing the artist’s use of impasto brushstrokes. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.42

Ultraviolet and natural-light details of Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) showing fluorescing pigments. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102. Interactive image.

fig. 2.43

Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) in its current frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1947.102.

fig. 2.49
fig. 2.50
fig. 2.51
fig. 2.48
fig. 2.52
fig. 2.53
fig. 2.54
fig. 2.55
fig. 2.56
fig. 2.57
Image Inventory:
Loc/Neg #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
Curatorialc. 5 x 7 B/W printDealer photoPre-1923Normal, overall
C139618 x 10 B/W--c. 1938Unknown “Donnelly negative”
Cons/C233358 x 10 B/WDuring treatment1956–57Normal, partially clean
C236048 x 10 B/WBefore treatment1956–57Normal
C342568 x 10 B/WAfter treatmentFeb. 1969Normal
Cons35mm color slides--1980Normal, overall, detail, figure
E106514 x 5 color transparency--2002 (?)Normal
G28516DigitalExhibitionMar. 11, 2008Normal
G28517DigitalExhibitionMar. 11, 2008Normal, detail, lower right
Cons/132372Digital/scanExhibitionNov. 2008Annotated condition
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 3, 2009Detail images of verso/ labels (10 total details)
ConsX-radiographOSCINov. 4, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Normal
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Raking light, overall
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009UV, overall
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Infrared (Fuji, 1000B—2mm filter) overall
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Macro details of surface (20 total details)
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 10, 2009Infrared (Inframetrics, 1.5–1.73 filter) overall
ConsDigitalOSCINov. 11, 2009Photomicrographs of surface (17 total details)
G32708DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal
G32709DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail, lower-right quadrant
G32710DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail, laundry basket
G32711DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail, right shoulder
G32712DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009UV, overall
G32718DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail, signature
G32719DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, frame only
G32918DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Composite, frame with painting
ConsDigitalOSCIJan.–Feb, 2010Photomicrographs of 3 cross sections (45 total details)
ConsDigitalOSCIMay 21, 2010Normal, verso, overall
ConsDigitalOSCIMay 21, 2010Infrared (Fuji, 100b—2mm filter), verso, overall
ConsDigitalOSCIAug. 25, 2011Infrared (Goodrich, 1000B—2mm filter), overall
ConsDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011Normal, macrophotographs of surface/tacking edges (6 total details)
ConsDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011UV, detail, figure’s face
ConsDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011Infrared (Fuji, 1000B—2mm filter) detail, figure’s face
G38546DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper-left corner
G38547DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper center
G38548DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper-right corner
G38549DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper mid-left
G38550DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper center
G38551DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, upper mid-right
G38552DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower mid-left
G38553DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower center
G38554DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower mid-right
G38555DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower-left corner
G38556DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower center
G38557DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, detail, lower-right corner
G38558DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, composite overall
fig. 2.58
fig. 2.19
fig. 3.60
fig. 2.5
fig. 2.8
fig. 2.9
fig. 2.10
fig. 2.11
fig. 2.14
fig. 2.17
fig. 2.18

Renoir’s The Laundress (1877/79) in a previous frame, on display in the home of Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester. Photograph published in Art Institute of Chicago, “The Magnificent Worcester Gift,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, 42, 2, pt. 3 (Feb. 1948), p. 4.

Loc/Neg #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
Curatorialc. 5 × 7 B&W printDealer photoPre-1923Normal, overall
C139618 × 10 B&W negativeUnknownc. 1938“Donnelly negative”
C233358 × 10 B&W negativeMidtreatment1956–57Normal, overall; partially clean
C236048 × 10 B&W negativePretreatment1956–57Normal, overall
C342568 × 10 B&W negativePosttreatmentFeb. 1969Normal, overall
Conservation35 mm color slidesUnknown1980Normal, overall; detail: figure (2 total)
E106514 × 5 CTUnknown2002 (?)Normal, overall
G28516DigitalExhibitionMar. 11, 2008Normal, overall
G28517DigitalExhibitionMar. 11, 2008Normal, detail: lower right
132372DigitalLoan examNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E10651
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 3, 2009Detail images of verso, labels (10 total)
ConservationX-rayOSCINov. 4, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Normal, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Raking light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Infrared (Fuji, 1000B-2mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 5, 2009Macro details of surface (20 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 10, 2009Infrared (Inframetrics, 1.5–1.73 µm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 11, 2009Photomicrographs of surface (17 total)
G32708DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, overall
G32709DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail: lower-right quadrant 
G32710DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail: laundry basket
G32711DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail: right shoulder
G32712DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
G32718DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, detail: signature
G32719DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, frame only
G32918DigitalOSCIDec. 3, 2009Normal, composite, frame with painting
ConservationDigitalOSCIMay 21, 2010Normal, verso, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIMay 21, 2010Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), verso, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIAug. 25, 2011Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011Macro details of surface/tacking edges (6 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011Ultraviolet, detail: figure’s face
ConservationDigitalOSCIAug. 26, 2011Infrared (Fuji, 1000B/2 mm filter), detail: figure’s face
G38546DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38547DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38548DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38549DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38550DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38551DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38552DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38553DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38554DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38555DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38556DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38557DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Section
G38558DigitalOSCISept. 15, 2011Normal, overall; composite of G38546–G38557

 

fig. 2.6
 

Cat. 7

Young Woman Sewing370
1879
Oil on canvas; 61.4 × 50.5 cm (24 3/16 × 19 7/8 in.)
Signed and dated: Renoir. 79. (upper left, in blue paint)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, 1933.452

Young Woman Sewing as Part of a Tradition

Embroidering and sewing, along with music recitals and reading, feature prominently in Renoir’s repertoire of images depicting the daily life of the French bourgeois woman. The theme is one of a range of domestic genre subjects—also including the governess or servant and child, getting dressed, and playing games—that were carried over into the nineteenth century from past art and given a new sense of contemporaneity and psychological insight by the Realists and the Impressionists. In her biography of the artist, Jeanne Baudot (a student of Renoir’s from 1893 to 1895) reported on a visit to the Musée du Louvre with her mentor: “He particularly liked [Gerard] Terborch and [Pieter] de Hooch, but his favorite was the Lacemaker by Vermeer.”371 This small oil painting (fig. 2.41) entered the collection of the Louvre in 1870. In Vermeer’s novel treatment of natural light, representation of ephemeral moments of everyday life, and sensitivity to male and female spheres of experience, Renoir found a precedent for his own Impressionist enterprise.

The artist’s earliest representation of needlework, Lise Sewing (fig. 2.42 [Daulte 16; Dauberville 396]), portrays his mistress Lise Tréhot, who modeled for him frequently from 1866 until 1872.372 In other paintings, Lise played the role of sultry odalisque or nude bather, but here she is represented simply as herself, dressed in modest but elegant attire that is ambiguous as to class. There are signs of staged domesticity in this portrayal. Though unmarried, she wears a wedding ring, and her jeweled earrings with their distinctive teardrop stones may well have been studio props—they reappeared two years later on Lise in Woman in a Garden (1868; Kunstmuseum Basel [Daulte 83; Dauberville 286]).373 It is worth noting that the figure in Young Woman Sewing also wears teardrop earrings, but the lack of detail makes it difficult to tell whether they are of the same design.

The splendor of the asters and chrysanthemums arranged in a shimmering vase, possibly of glazed ceramic, has led Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick to conclude that Young Woman Sewing was painted late in the summer of 1879 during the final days of Renoir’s first stay at the Château de Wargemont, the Normandy home of his patron Paul Berard.374 It seems unlikely, however, that the artist would have executed such a large and stunningly provocative color work of an anonymous young woman when his commissioned portraits of the Berard family and staff members are conservatively composed and set against conventional dark backgrounds. Rather, the possibility should be entertained that Young Woman Sewing was executed after Renoir’s return to Paris in late September, where he could have acquired the flowers from one of the many Montmartre flower vendors.

The most remarkable aspect of Young Woman Sewing is the way Renoir was able to energize the traditionally subdued indoor subject with a brilliant flourish of natural light and a profusion of color in the bouquet. His Realist and Impressionist predecessors may have influenced this bold juxtaposition. For example, Gustave Courbet linked women and flowers in The Trellis (fig. 2.43), in which floral bounty verges on the fantastic and makes allegorical allusion to youth and love.375 Flowers also abound in Edgar Degas’s A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (fig. 2.49) to such an extent that the off-center figure appears to be a late addition, though this is probably not the case. Rather, Degas seized the opportunity to be visually innovative with the subject. The seemingly informal arrangement of blossoms in Young Woman Sewing dominates the composition less than the flowers in the works by Courbet and Degas, but the abundance of variety and texture allowed Renoir a certain freedom in handling that amply demonstrates his technical skill.

A Possible New Model for Renoir

No attempt has been made to identify Renoir’s beautiful young model with her round face, plump lips, and reddish hair. The artist lost his regular model, Alma-Henriette Leboeuf, called Margot, to smallpox in February 1879 and would have needed another Montmartre resident he could call on for figure paintings. Three additional models posed for Renoir in 1879 and 1880: Ellen Andrée, an aspiring actress; Angèle, a young florist in Montmartre whose last name is not known; and Aline Charigot, Renoir’s future wife. Both Andrée and Charigot had red hair and can be seen in Luncheon of the Boating Party (fig. 2.50 [Daulte 379; Dauberville 224]).376 Angèle, who appears in Sleeping Girl with a Cat (1880; Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass. [Daulte 330; Dauberville 487]), had darker hair and somewhat slimmer facial features.377

Though little is known of Aline’s early years in Montmartre or exactly when she met Renoir, it is likely that she had begun modeling for him by the fall of 1879.378 She was then twenty years old and working as a seamstress, and thus part of a milieu with which Renoir was already acquainted.379 According to her son Jean Renoir, at the time Aline lived with her mother on rue Saint-Georges, the street on which Renoir’s studio was located.380 By 1880 Renoir and Aline seem to have been on intimate terms. That summer he paid her board at the Maison Fournaise in Chatou, where she modeled for Luncheon of the Boating Party after Renoir arrived from Normandy in September.381 If Aline was the model for Young Woman Sewing, the difference between the tranquil concentration and demure costume of the figure in that painting and the coquettish, fashionably dressed canotière (rower) playing with her dog in Luncheon of the Boating Party could reflect Aline’s change in status from occasional model under the watchful eye of her mother to “my dear friend,” as Renoir addressed her in correspondence after their relationship began.382 In the fall of 1881, Aline accompanied Renoir to Italy. Most scholars agree that, while the couple was in Capri, she modeled for Blonde Bather (fig. 2.51 [Daulte 387; Dauberville 583]).383 No photographs of Aline from this period of her relationship with Renoir have yet come to light, but there is a compelling resemblance between the figures in Young Woman Sewing and Blonde Bather. Despite the title of the Italian work, there is some red in the woman’s hair, a strawberry-blonde color shared with the figure in Young Woman Sewing. In addition, the two have similar features, including rosy cheeks, wide-set eyes, and prominent noses.

Renoir and Embroidery

It may never be possible to confidently identify Renoir’s model, but Aline’s occupation as a seamstress would have lent additional significance to the artist’s choosing her as a model for this subject. This painting is usually referred to as Young Woman Sewing, or La couseuse, but an early handwritten label from a previous backing or stretcher reads Femme brodant et fleurs (Woman embroidering and flowers; fig. 2.48) and almost certainly dates to the period when Charles Deudon owned the painting, prior to his death in 1914.384 The brightly colored fabric that the figure holds in her hand suggests that she may be embroidering a pattern on white cloth. The distinction between sewing and embroidery is significant. Repairs to clothing and other fabrics were carried out by domestics or hired out to seamstresses, and undoubtedly Aline undertook such work. Decorative embroidery, however, was reserved for the middle and upper classes and was performed primarily on domestic linens, such as antimacassars and slipcovers, and clothing.

Embroidery acquired even greater status in the late nineteenth century as a form of craft, especially for artists such as Renoir. In 1884, he included embroiderers in his prospectus for a “Société des Irrégularistes,” whose members would also be drawn from the ranks of architects, goldsmiths, and decorators—all professions that shared a belief in the importance of the arts in everyday life.385 As Gloria Groom has suggested, acknowledging that embroidery was recognized as a craft enriches our understanding of Gustave Caillebotte’s painting of his very haute bourgeoise mother stitching a patterned cloth (1877; private collection).386 The portrait was shown at the third Impressionist exhibition in April 1877. In July of that year, Caillebotte, Renoir, and the art dealer Alphonse Legrand were collaborators in a business venture to paint decoration on a fine white plaster cement, used to make faux marbre. Though it dissolved in April 1878, the enterprise was indicative of how strongly both Caillebotte and Renoir felt about Impressionism’s involvement in the decorative arts.

Young Woman Sewing as an Exercise in Expressive Color

Young Woman Sewing is a vibrant, light-filled canvas in which Renoir exploited the expressive potential of color with a surprising freedom of handling. Cobalt blue dominates the deep shadows of the legged vase and the body of the commode and is present as well in blended glazes in the background and in the young woman’s costume. The blue makes a striking contrast against the red surface on which the vase sits. Touches of blue applied with a fine-tip brush appear throughout the hair, flesh, comb, and eyelashes (fig. 2.52). Shades of both red and blue run through the woman’s clothing, either applied with long strokes of a fine-tip brush or blended over existing underlayers, and merge into violet in the shadows (fig. 2.53), a velvety Impressionist equivalent of traditional chiaroscuro. With a more sparing use of yellows in the flowers, hair, flesh, and subtle highlights around the vase, Renoir managed to convey middle tones and a convincing verisimilitude through the optical mixing of primary colors (fig. 2.54).

The innovative exploration of color in Young Woman Sewing is evident when the painting is viewed in the context of Renoir’s more conservative portrait painting or compared to a work such as Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children (fig. 2.55 [Daulte 266; Dauberville 239]),387 which was exhibited at the Salon of 1879.388 Renoir clearly considered black an important color and fully understood its aesthetic potential, as indicated by his virtuoso representation of the richly detailed black silk of the luxurious couture dress seen in this painting.389 By contrast, the dominance of primary hues, especially blue, in Young Woman Sewing makes it the figural equivalent of the stormy Seascape (fig. 2.5 [cat. 8]). The artist established comparable textural patterns in both paintings by juxtaposing areas of translucent color washes with areas of minimally worked impasto. Using the same basic palette, however, Renoir evoked very different moods in the two paintings by varying the representation of light.

The light source in Young Woman Sewing is as ambiguous as that in Vermeer’s Lace Maker. In both paintings, it is presumably a window just outside the space of the picture. The vagueness of the source gave Vermeer latitude to bathe his image in light, giving it a mystical quality. The light in Renoir’s painting can be said to be as much the subject of the piece as the figure’s attentive work with the needle. She radiates warmth, and her features shine with reflected light. The inside of her collar and the top of her head are rendered in pure white, contributing to the intense luminosity of the picture. Even shaded areas away from the light source seem to glow, particularly the figure’s hair (see Palette in the technical report), with its reddish-orange tones (fig. 2.8). Renoir was able to achieve such dazzling effects by using very thin glazes over a thick white ground.

Critics who knew the Impressionists and supported their agenda in the press recognized the fundamental role of color in the group’s work. On the occasion of the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876, Edmond Duranty wrote a pamphlet titled The New Painting, which provided a justification for the kinds of issues Renoir sought to address in Young Woman Sewing: “Proceeding from intuition to intuition, they have little by little succeeded in breaking down sunlight into its rays, its elements, and [in] reconstituting its unity by means of the general harmony of spectrum colors—which they spread on their canvases.”390 Young Woman Sewing holds an important place in Renoir’s oeuvre not only by virtue of its subject matter, drawn from the Old Masters, but also because it reveals Renoir forging his independence as a modern colorist even as he sought greater commercial success at the Salon.
John Collins

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir executed this painting on a fine-weave, standard-size [glossary:canvas] with a thick, white, commercially applied ground that fills the [glossary:weave], appears systematically textured with diagonal strokes, and extends to the edges of the [glossary:tacking margins]. The [glossary:X-ray] shows a large vertical form left of center that does not correspond to any visible element in the painting; it seems to be an artifact of an imperfectly applied [glossary:ground] layer.391

In most of the composition, Renoir layered thin veils of paint in glaze- and semiglaze-like layers in order to make use of the reflective qualities of the ground. To achieve this translucency, he alternately thinned and added fluid medium to his paint and used translucent [glossary:pigments] like red lake and cobalt blue. Some parts of the background and figure are so thin that they do not register in the X-ray, in contrast with the thicker, heavily textured application of paint in the flowers on the upper right. The artist appears to have made few compositional changes to the work, perhaps only lowering the profile of the woman’s right shoulder. The slightly shaded look of the area immediately to the right of the figure may also indicate changes to either the figure or the background that Renoir subsequently wiped away with a cloth, leaving a thin residue behind. In the foreground, the artist employed wiping as a painting technique; the remnants of paint left in the depressions of the textured ground create shadow and give the gathered fabric in the woman’s hand a soft edge. Toward the end of the process, Renoir firmly established the light source on the upper right with heavy white highlights on the vase and flowers, and in the comb in the figure’s hair.

The work has a [glossary:synthetic varnish] that imparts some saturation and gloss. The current [glossary:varnish] replaced an oil-resin varnish, but it is unknown whether that was original to the painting.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 2.40).392

Signature

Signed and dated: Renoir. 79. (upper left, in blue paint).393

The signature was painted [glossary:wet-in-wet] with the upper layers of the background and picks up some of the surrounding red lake through the center. The n appears to have been reinforced by the artist during the process (fig. 1.2, fig. 1.1).

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).394

Standard Format

The original dimensions of the canvas were 61.1 × 50.2 cm, according to 1969 pretreatment measurements.395 An early exhibition label preserved from the original [glossary:stretcher] lists the painting as 61 × 50 cm (fig. 2.20), and a possibly related published exhibition record from 1922 lists the same measurements.396 This probably corresponds to a no. 12 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size (60 × 50 cm) canvas.397

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 29.8V (0.5) × 24.9H (1.2) threads/cm. The vertical threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the horizontal threads to the [glossary:weft].398

Canvas characteristics

There is very mild [glossary:cusping] corresponding to the placement of the original tacks. The canvas is also marked by numerous nubs and imperfections.

Stretching

Current stretching: When the painting was lined in 1969, the original dimensions were slightly increased on all sides (see Conservation History).

Original stretching: Based on cusping visible in the X-ray, the original tacks were placed approximately 4.5–6.5 cm apart.

Stretcher/strainer

Current stretcher: Four-member ICA spring stretcher. Depth: 2.5 cm.

Original stretcher: Five-member keyable stretcher with horizontal [glossary:crossbar]. Depth: Approximately 1.5 cm.399

Manufacturer’s/supplier’s marks

Stamp
Location: verso of original canvas (covered by lining)
Method: stamp
Content: C[OU]LEURS FINES TOILES PEINDRE / TABLEAUX / REY & PERROD / [5]1 Rue de la Rochefou[cauld] / PARIS (fig. 2.33)400

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

Not determined (probably glue).401

Ground application/texture

The canvas was prepared with a white ground that extends to the edges of the tacking margins and fills the fine canvas weave. The thickness of the [glossary:priming], averaging approximately 50–100 µm, suggests that there may have been multiple applications. [glossary:Cross-sectional analysis] indicates that the preparation is probably a double layer, with both layers of very similar composition and the second applied shortly after the first. The X-ray shows an apparent buildup of paint or ground material in a vertical section just left of center that does not correspond to any visible element in the painting. The haphazard, sometimes sharp-edged marks seen in the X-ray may indicate application of a (perhaps localized) preparatory layer with a [glossary:palette knife] (fig. 2.38). Toward the edges of this area, especially near the top, brushstrokes are visible, suggesting that this layer may initially have been applied with a palette knife, then worked into the surface with a brush. This layer also looks different from the surrounding areas: it is more heavily and unevenly textured and contains a number of large lead-containing protrusions (fig. 1.3).402 Elsewhere on the surface, however, a shallow, fine, diagonal texture can be seen, which may mean that the upper layer was applied or finished with a brush (fig. 1.4). This texture appears to go to the edges of the tacking margins, passing over the foldover on all sides. As the weave is very fine, such a thick ground application, had it been applied with a palette knife alone, would have resulted in an extremely smooth, almost glassy surface. Adding a systematic texture to the upper layer allowed the surface to hold more paint, something especially important in this work because the paint layers are so thin.

Reasons for the localized application of additional priming left of center are unclear. There are small scratches in the ground layers (visible in the X-ray as diagonal marks on the lower and center left) that seem to have occurred before the work was painted and possibly before the additional ground layer was applied.403 It is possible that the extra material was added to cover these marks. The increased texture in this area makes the colors appear darker, because of increased saturation as the thin, translucent paint layers sank into the depressions, pooling more thickly and thus appearing more intense. These darker areas where the paint has pooled more thickly do not correspond to, cover, or accentuate compositional forms; therefore, it is unlikely that this was an intentional effect desired or requested by the artist. However, Renoir would have been aware of the effect immediately, and while he may not have intended it, there is no evidence that he made any attempt to diminish it.

The ground is exposed throughout the painting, especially on the upper right. In many areas, the paint layers are very thin, allowing the lightness and texture of the ground to show through (fig. 2.22).

Color

Careful stereomicroscopic examination of the surface indicates a bright white ground with very few dark or colored particles visible (fig. 2.23).

Materials/composition

The commercial ground appears to be a double application of priming material containing predominantly lead white with barium sulfate and variable trace amounts of silica; calcium-based white; silicate minerals with associated iron oxides, including umber; alumina; and small particles of ultramarine blue. The area of apparent additional preparation, just left of center, was found to have the same composition.404 The [glossary:binder] is estimated to be [glossary:oil]; the upper layer of the ground application looks less dense in the backscattered electron ([glossary:BSE]) image, which may indicate that this layer contains slightly more medium (fig. 2.24).405

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch

No [glossary:underdrawing] was observed with [glossary:infrared reflectography] or under microscopic examination.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

The primary technique Renoir employed in making this painting was to layer very thin, translucent veils of paint in order to make use of the reflective qualities of the white ground. On the upper right, he left the ground mostly exposed to hint at the light source. On the left, the paint layers that make up the woman and her costume are so thin that they are not readily visible in the X-ray (fig. 2.38). The X-ray does show a few of the highly textured flower petals and white highlights, in addition to an apparent buildup of ground material as a vertical form left of center. To create the flesh tones, the artist mixed red lake and cobalt blue, sometimes with a small amount of yellow or vermilion, but generally without white, layering the colors so thinly that the highlights and glow of the flesh are largely a result of light reflecting off of the priming (fig. 2.25).406

Renoir both thinned and added fluid medium to his paints to achieve translucent washes and glazes. The thinness of the underlying washes is apparent throughout the background and contrasts with the more glaze-like handling of the figure’s dress and flesh tones (fig. 2.57). In some areas, the artist used a cloth to wipe paint away, leaving only a small amount in the depressions of the canvas weave. This technique can be seen in the cloth the woman holds in the foreground, where the shadow across the top curve is indicated by the residue of blue paint that has been largely wiped away (fig. 2.26). Renoir may also have employed this technique in the underlayers throughout the figure, especially in her hair and costume. The only obvious indication of a change to the figure is along the top of the woman’s right shoulder, which appears to have been slightly lowered before it was fully defined. Because the paint layers are so thin, evidence of this change is still visible on the left (fig. 2.27). The somewhat darkened appearance of the paint immediately to the right of the figure suggests that the artist made additional changes and wiped away some paint; however, the nature and subject of these changes are unclear.

In contrast to his handling of the rest of the picture, Renoir built up the flowers on the upper right with thicker paint and small dabs of heavy [glossary:impasto] (fig. 2.28). As a final touch, the artist added highlights in pure white on the vase (fig. 2.29) and on the comb holding the figure’s hair (fig. 2.30) to clarify the light source on the upper right.

Painting tools

Very fine, round brushes, some with wider strokes up to 1 cm wide; cloth for wiping.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following [glossary:pigments]:407 lead white, cobalt blue, iron oxide red, vermilion, madder lake, bone black, zinc yellow, chrome yellow, strontium yellow, and possibly barium yellow.408

Stereomicroscopic examination and cross-sectional analysis indicate that the dull yellow, almost ocher-colored paint used in some of the flowers and in the gathered fabric in the foreground is not the common earth pigment, but a complex mixture including zinc yellow, black, and madder lake (fig. 2.31).409

The observation of a characteristic orange [glossary:fluorescence] under UV light indicates that the artist used large amounts of fluorescing red lake, identified as madder lake, mixed with other colors to create the flesh tones, hair, and costume (fig. 2.32). In the UV image, the tabletop on the right appears to be painted almost entirely with this lake color (fig. 2.34).410

Binding media

Oil (estimated).411

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

The current synthetic varnish was applied during the 1969 treatment and replaced an oil-resin varnish. There are residues of this earlier varnish around areas of impasto (especially the signature). It is unknown whether this varnish was original to the painting; however, abrasion noted in the pretreatment report suggests that the painting had been cleaned previously (see Conservation History).

Conservation History

The painting’s only documented treatment was a 1969 [glossary:lining].412 Grime and a discolored oil-resin varnish were removed, and the work was taken off of its original stretcher. The painting was faced with mulberry-fiber paper and starch paste and wax-resin lined to a secondary piece of linen. The lined painting was restretched on an ICA spring stretcher of slightly larger dimensions, leaving a margin of exposed ground around the perimeter. The work was inpainted and given three coats of synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by [glossary:inpainting], a layer of methacrylate resin L-46, and a final coat of AYAA).

Condition Summary

The work is in good condition, planar with a stable [glossary:wax-resin lining]. Heavy [glossary:craquelure] can be seen throughout the work, especially in [glossary:raking light], and includes stretcher-bar marks corresponding to the original stretcher. There is a small loss along the line of buttons just under the figure’s left hand and a loss of impasto in the flowers to the right of her hair. Long diagonal creases, which extend from the left edge behind the figure’s head down toward her hands, seem to have occurred during the preparation of the canvas, and original paint settled into the depressions associated with them. The inpainting is discolored and visible in many areas of the face, hair, and hands, and around the edges. In most cases, the [glossary:retouching] addresses areas of abrasion and traction cracking. The work has a synthetic varnish imparting even saturation and gloss; there are two large, matte surface drips in the lower left quadrant.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

The current frame appears to be original to the painting.413 It is a French, late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century, Louis XIV reproduction, gilt ogee frame with cast plaster anthemia corner cartouches and fleur-de-lis center cartouches, linked by fleurs-de-lis surrounded by scrolls and strapwork. The frame has oil and water gilding over red bole on cast plaster and gesso. The ornament and sight molding are selectively burnished. The gilding is heavily rubbed and toned with a casein or gouache raw umber wash with a gray overwash and dark flecking. The pine molding is mitered and nailed. At some point in the frame’s history, the original verso was planed flat, removing all construction history and provenance, a back frame was added, and all back and interior surfaces were painted. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is torus with dentil outer molding; scotia side; ogee face with anthemia corner cartouches and fleur-de-lis center cartouches on diamond-punched beds, linked by fleurs-de-lis surrounded by foliate scrolls and strapwork on a quadrillage bed; sanded front frieze bordered with fillets; and ogee sight molding with leaf-tip ornament linked by scrolls and strapping on a recut bed (fig. 2.10, fig. 2.17).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Acquired from [unknown] by Charles Deudon (died 1914), Paris and Nice.414

Acquired by Paul Rosenberg and Co., Paris and New York, by Feb. 1921.415

Acquired by Howard Young, New York.416

Acquired by Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn, Chicago, by June 1931.417

Bequeathed by Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn (died 1932) to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.

Exhibition History

Paris, Paul Rosenberg, Exposition d’oeuvres de grands maîtres du dix-neuvième siècle, May 3–June 3, 1922, cat. 74.

Art Institute of Chicago, Exhibition of the Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection: Modern Paintings and Watercolors, Apr. 6–Oct. 9, 1932, cat. 32.

Art Institute of Chicago, “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933, cat. 344.418 (fig. 2.11)

Art Institute of Chicago, “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture for 1934, June 1–Oct. 31, 1934, cat. 235.419

New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings, May 18–Sept. 12, 1937, cat. 25 (ill.).

Columbus (Ohio) Gallery of Fine Arts, Six Paintings by Renoir, Oct. 6–Nov. 6, 1938, cat. 1 (ill.).420

New York, Paul Rosenberg, Great French Masters of the Nineteenth Century: Corot to van Gogh, May 4–29, 1942, cat. 8 (ill.).

Art Gallery of Toronto, Fifty Paintings by Old Masters, Apr. 21–May 21, 1950, cat. 37.

New York, Wildenstein, Renoir: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the American Association of Museums in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Renoir’s Death, Mar. 27–May 3, 1969, cat. 28 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 25 (ill.).

Tokyo, National Museum of Western Art, Masterpieces of World Art from American Museums: From Ancient Egyptian to Contemporary Art, Sept. 11–Oct. 17, 1976, cat. 45 (ill.); Kyoto National Museum, Nov. 2–Dec. 5, 1976.

Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art, The Crisis of Impressionism, 1878–1882, Nov. 2, 1979–Jan. 6, 1980, cat. 47 (ill.).

Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, June 27–Aug. 31, 1980, cat. 20 (ill.).

Hartford, Conn., Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, June 27, 1997–May 6, 1998, no cat.421

Tokyo, Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art, Aug. 24, 2001–June 12, 2002, no cat.422

Fort Worth, Tex., Kimbell Art Museum, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, June 29–Nov. 2, 2008, cat. 29 (ill.).

Tokyo, National Art Center, Renoir: Tradition and Innovation, Jan. 20–Apr. 5, 2010, cat. 54 (ill.); Osaka, National Museum of Art, Apr. 17–June 27, 2010.

Selected References

“La curiosité: La collection Deudon,” Le bulletin de la vie artistique 1, 11 (May 1, 1920), p. 306 (ill.).

Jacques-Émile Blanche, “La technique de Renoir,” L’amour de l’art 2, 2 (Feb. 1921), opp. p. 33 (ill.).

Paul Rosenberg, Paris, Exposition d’oeuvres de grands maîtres du dix-neuvième siècle, exh. cat. (Frazier-Soye, 1922), p. 23, cat. 74.

Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir (Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1929), pp. 99, n. 1; 122, no. 108 (ill.).

“French Masterpieces That One Day Will Belong to Art Institute,” Chicago Daily News, June 1931, p. 14 (ill.).

Reginald Howard Wilenski, French Painting (Hale, Cushman & Flint, 1931), p. 262.

Art Institute of Chicago, Exhibition of the Mrs. L. L. Coburn Collection: Modern Paintings and Watercolors, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1932), pp. 6; 22–23, no. 32.

Daniel Catton Rich, “The Bequest of Mrs. L. L. Coburn,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 26, 6 (Nov. 1932), p. 68.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture; Lent from American Collections, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, 3rd ed., exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1933), p. 49, cat. 344.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Rearrangement of the Paintings Galleries,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 27, 7 (Dec. 1933), p. 115.

Art Institute of Chicago, Catalogue of “A Century of Progress”: Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, 1934, ed. Daniel Catton Rich, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1934), pp. 39–40, cat. 235.

Art Institute of Chicago, A Brief Illustrated Guide to the Collections (Art Institute of Chicago, 1935), p. 28.423

Hans Tietz, ed., Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika (Phaidon, 1935), pp. 295 (ill.), p. 345.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings, exh. cat. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bradford, 1937), no. 25 (ill.).

Harry B. Wehle, “The Painting of Renoir,” in Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of His Paintings, exh. cat. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Bradford, 1937), p. 7.

Josephine L. Allen, “Paintings by Renoir,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 32, 5 (May 1937), p. 112.

Columbus (Ohio) Gallery of Fine Arts, “Six Paintings by Renoir,” Monthly Bulletin 9, 1 (Oct. 1938), front cover (ill.); no. 1.

Lionello Venturi, Les archives de l’impressionnisme: Lettres de Renoir, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, et autres; Mémoires de Paul Durand-Ruel; Documents, vol. 1 (Durand-Ruel, 1939), p. 152.424

Reginald Howard Wilenski, Modern French Painters (Reynal & Hitchcok, [1940]), pp. 62, 337.425

Harry B. Wehle, “The Painting of Renoir,” in Duveen Galleries, New York, Renoir: Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841–1941; For the Benefit of the Free French Relief Committee, exh. cat. (Vilmorin/Bradford, 1941), p. 18.

Paul Rosenberg, New York, Great French Masters of the Nineteenth Century: Corot to Van Gogh, exh. cat. (Rosenberg, 1942), pp. 24–25, no. 8 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, An Illustrated Guide to the Collections of the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1945), p. 36.426

Isabel Bishop, “Concerning Edges,” Magazine of Art 38, 5 (May 1945), p. 172 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, “Bulletin Board,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 40, 1 (Jan. 1946), p. 6.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Bulletin Board,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 40, 4, pt. 2 (Apr.–May 1946), p. 52.

“What the Piece Goods Buyer Can Learn from the Apparel Business,” American Fabrics 4 (Fall 1947), p. 88 (ill.).

Art Gallery of Toronto, Fifty Paintings by Old Masters, exh. cat. (Art Gallery of Toronto, 1950), cat. 37.

Dorothy Bridaham, Renoir in the Art Institute of Chicago (Conzett & Huber, 1954), pl. 2.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 395.427

Frederick A. Sweet, “Great Chicago Collectors,” Apollo 84, 55 (Sept. 1966), p. 203.

François Daulte, Renoir: A Loan Exhibition for the Benefit of the American Association of Museums in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Renoir’s Death, exh. cat. (Wildenstein, 1969), cat. 28 (ill.).

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. 1, Figures, 1860–1890 (Durand-Ruel, 1971), pp. 230–31, cat. 299 (ill.).

Elda Fezzi, L’opera completa di Renoir: Nel periodo impressionista, 1869–1883, Classici dell’arte 59 (Rizzoli, 1972), pp. 103, cat. 339; 104, cat. 339 (ill.).428

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 78–79, cat. 25 (ill.).

National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, and Kyoto National Museum, Masterpieces of World Art from American Museums: From Ancient Egyptian to Contemporary Art, exh. cat. (National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo, 1976), no. 45 (ill.).

Patricia Erens, Masterpieces: Famous Chicagoans and Their Paintings (Chicago Review, 1979), n. pag. (ill.).

J. Patrice Marandel, The Art Institute of Chicago: Favorite Impressionist Paintings (Cross River, 1979), pp. 72–73 (ill.).

Joel Isaacson, The Crisis of Impressionism, 1878–1882, exh. cat. (University of Michigan Museum of Art, 1980), pp. 30; 178–79, cat. 47 (ill.).

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism (Abbeville, 1980), pp. 266 (ill.), 438.429

Diane Kelder, The Great Book of French Impressionism, Tiny Folios (Abbeville, 1980), p. 148, pl. 8.

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec and Art Institute of Chicago, Trésors impressionnistes du Musée de Chicago, exh. cat. (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, 1980), pp. 39, no. 20 (ill.); 68.

Nicholas Wadley, ed., Renoir: A Retrospective (Hugh Lauter Levin/Macmillan, 1987), p. 66, pl. 18.

Anne Distel, “Charles Deudon (1832–1914) collectionneur,” Revue de l’art 86 (1989), p. 64, no. 10 (ill.).

Sophie Monneret, Renoir, Profils de l’art (Chêne, 1989), p. 152, cat. 23 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures of 19th- and 20th-Century Painting: The Art Institute of Chicago, with an introduction by James N. Wood (Art Institute of Chicago/Abbeville, 1993), p. 77 (ill.).

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 45–46; 88, pl. 7; 110.

Gilles Néret, Renoir: Painter of Happiness, 1841–1919, trans. Josephine Bacon (Taschen, 2001), pp. 124–25 (ill.).

John Collins, “Christine Lerolle Embroidering: Between Genre Painting and Portraiture,” in Ann Dumas and John Collins, Renoir’s Women, exh. cat. (Columbus Museum of Art/Merrell, 2005), pp. 102, 106.

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. 1, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), pp. 416–17, cat. 393 (ill.).

Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Impressionists: Master Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Kimbell Art Museum, 2008), pp. 15 (ill.); 76, cat. 29 (ill.). Simultaneously published as Gloria Groom and Douglas Druick, with the assistance of Dorota Chudzicka and Jill Shaw, The Age of Impressionism at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 15 (ill.); 76, cat. 29 (ill.).430

Anne Distel, Renoir (Citadelles & Mazenod, 2009), pp. 154–55, ill. 138.

Toru Arayashiki et al., Renoir: Tradition and Innovation, trans. Stanley N. Anderson, Martha J. McClintock, and Cheryl A. Silverman, exh. cat. (National Museum of Art, Osaka/National Art Center, Tokyo/Yomiuri Shimbun, 2010), pp. 25 (ill.); 146–47, cat. 54 (ill.); 148–49 (detail); 249, cat. 54 (ill.).

Other Documentation

Labels and Inscriptions

Pre-1980

Stamp
Location: verso of original canvas (covered by lining)431
Method: stamp
Content: C[OU]LEURS FINES TOILES PEINDRE / TABLEAUX / REY & PERROD / [5]1 Rue de la Rochefou[cauld] / PARIS (fig. 2.33)432

Label
Location: previous stretcher or backing (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: handwritten script on white label
Content: Renoir / Femme brodant / et fleurs / h. 0,61 × l. 0,50 / [center right, blue script] 25 (fig. 2.9)

Label
Location: previous stretcher or backing (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: stamp on round label
Content: DOUANE / PARIS / CENTRALE (fig. 2.35)

Label
Location: previous stretcher or backing (discarded); preserved in conservation file
Method: printed and typed label
Content: S. L. No. 2732.2. / THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM / OF ART / SPECIAL LOAN EXHIBITION / OF / PAINTINGS BY PIERRE AUGUSTE RENOIR / Title Lady Sewing / Artist Renoir / Owner Chicago Art Institute / Address Chicago, Ill. / Return Address Same (fig. 2.36)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (black marker)
Content: 33.452 (fig. 2.37)

Label
Location: previous backing (discarded); transcription preserved in curatorial file
Method: printed label
Content: Le Musee National d’art Occidental / Tokyo, Japan / cat. no. 45433

Post-1980

Stamp
Location: stretcher
Method: blue stamp
Content: Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.19)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: typed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / artist Pierre Auguste Renoir / title Lady Sewing / medium oil on canvas / credit Mr.&Mrs. Lewis Lanard [sic] Coburn Collection / acc. # 1933.452 / LZ-341-001 1M 1/90 (Rev. 1/90) (fig. 3.60)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: typed label
Content: WADSWORTH ATHENEUM / HARTFORD, CONN. / No. T.L.16.1997.1 / Artist Pierre Auguste Renoir / Title Young Woman Sewing, 1879 / (La Couseuse) / Owner Art Institute of Chicago / Return to " (fig. 2.58)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner. Scans were digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

Infrared Reflectography

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) and J filter (1.5–1.7 µm).

Transmitted Infrared

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm).

Visible Light

Natural-light, raking-light, and transmitted-light overalls and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-Resolution Visible Light (and Ultraviolet)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter).

Microscopy and Photomicrographs

Sample and cross-sectional analysis were performed using a Zeiss Axioplan2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/UV fluorescence and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: darkfield, differential interference contrast (DIC), and UV. In situ photomicrographs were taken with a Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with an Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

Cross sections were analyzed after carbon coating with a Hitachi S-3400N-II VPSEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state BSE detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)

A Jobin Yvon Horiba LabRAM 300 confocal Raman microscope was used, equipped with an Andor multichannel, Peltier-cooled, open-electrode charge-coupled device detector (Andor DV420-OE322; 1024×256), an Olympus BXFM open microscope frame, a holographic notch filter, and an 1,800-grooves/mm dispersive grating.

The excitation line of an air-cooled, frequency-doubled, He-Ne laser (632.8 nm) was focused through a 20× objective onto the samples, and Raman scattering was back collected through the same microscope objective. Power at the samples was kept very low (never exceeding a few mW) by a series of neutral density filters in order to avoid any thermal damage.434

Automated Thread Counting

Thread count and weave information were determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.435

Image Registration Software

Overlay images were registered using a novel image-based algorithm developed by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.436

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.18).

cat. 7  Young Woman Sewing, 1879.

fig. 1.2

Detail of the signature in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 1.1

Photomicrograph of the signature in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.20

Image of an archival label from a previous stretcher or backing on Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879), possibly from the Exposition d’oeuvres de Grands Maitres du dix-neuvième siècle, May 3–June 3, 1922. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 1.3

Photomicrograph of the figure’s costume in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). White lumps of ground were dragged through the preparation, causing scratches. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 1.4

Photomicrograph of the ground in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.22

Photomicrograph of the white cloth held by the figure in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The thin paint has been wiped away and remains only in the depressions of the ground. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.23

Photomicrograph of a cross section from the canvas and ground of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). Original magnification: 50×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.24

Backscattered electron image of a cross section of the ground in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). A faint line differentiating what may be two applications of ground material can be discerned. Original magnification: 250×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.25

Detail of the figure’s face in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) showing the artist’s use of thin, translucent paint layers. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.26

Detail of the white cloth held by the figure in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The artist used wiping to leave paint only in the depressions of the ground to create a shadow. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.27

Detail of the figure’s right shoulder in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The line of the previous position of the shoulder is visible just above the final placement. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.28

Photomicrograph of an impasted, yellow flower in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.29

Photomicrograph of the highlight on the vase in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.30

Photomicrograph of the woman’s hair comb in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). Thick white highlights were added as a final touch. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.31

Photomicrograph of the ocher-colored paint in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). Not ocher at all, this is actually a mixture of several colors. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.32

Ultraviolet image of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.33

Transmitted-infrared (Fuji, 1.0–1.1 µm) detail from the verso of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) showing the ovular Rey & Perrod color merchant stamp. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.34

Photomicrograph in UV light of a cross section from the woman's sleeve in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) showing bright fluorescence of the madder lake. Original magnification: 200×. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.35
fig. 2.36
fig. 2.37
fig. 2.38

X-ray of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452. X-ray digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

fig. 2.39

2nd x-ray

fig. 2.40

Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452. Interactive image.

fig. 2.41

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632–1675). The Lace Maker, 1669/70. Oil on canvas laid down on wood; 31 × 24 cm (12 3/16 × 9 7/16 in.). Musée du Louvre, Paris, M.I. 1448. © RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.42

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Lise Sewing, 1866/67. Oil on canvas; 56 × 47 cm (22 × 18 1/2 in.). Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.59.

fig. 2.43

Gustave Courbet (French, 1819–1877). The Trellis, 1862. Oil on canvas; 109.8 × 135.2 cm (43 1/4 × 53 1/4 in.). The Toledo Museum of Art, Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1950.309.

fig. 2.49

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). A Woman Seated beside a Vase of Flowers (Madame Paul Valpinçon?), 1865. Oil on canvas; 73.7 × 92.7 cm (29 × 36 1/2 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929, 29.100.128. Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.50

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880–81. Oil on canvas; 130.2 × 175.6 cm (51 1/4 × 68 1/8 in.). The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., Acquired 1923, 1637. Bridgeman Images.

fig. 2.51

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Blonde Bather, 1881. Oil on canvas; 81.8 × 65.7 cm (32 3/16 × 25 7/8 in.). Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass., 1955.609. Bridgeman Images.

fig. 2.48

Label with the inscription Femme brodant et fleurs (Woman embroidering and flowers) from a previous backing or stretcher of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.52

Detail of the figure’s eyelash in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.53

Detail of the figure’s shoulder in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.54

Detail of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) showing yellow highlights in a red flower. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.55

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children, 1878. Oil on canvas; 153.7 × 190.2 cm (60 1/2 × 74 7/8 in.). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, 07.122. Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

fig. 2.56
fig. 2.57

Photomicrograph of the figure’s costume in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) showing the translucency of the glaze-like paint layers. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.58
fig. 2.19
fig. 3.60
fig. 2.5

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919). Seascape, 1879. Oil on canvas; 72.6 × 91.6 cm (28 1/2 × 36 in.). The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.438. See cat. 8.

fig. 2.8

Detail of the top of the figure’s head in Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879). The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.9
fig. 2.10

Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) in its original frame. The Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.452.

fig. 2.11

Installation of Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) in “A Century of Progress”: Loan Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, May 23–Nov. 1, 1933. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

fig. 2.14

frame history

fig. 2.17

Renoir’s Young Woman Sewing (1879) in its original frame, on display in Mrs. Lewis Larned (Annie Swan) Coburn’s Blackstone Hotel apartment. Institutional Archives, Art Institute of Chicago.

Loc/Neg #FormatPurposeDateLighting, Notes
C11553UnknownUnknownc. 1935? 
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 7, 1969Normal, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 7, 1969Ultraviolet, overall
Conservation8 × 10 B&W negativePretreatmentJan. 7, 1969Infrared, overall
E090224 × 5 CT UnknownNov. 8, 1985Unspecified detail
Conservation35 mm slideUnknownJan. 1989Normal, overall
E263054 × 5 CT UnknownJuly 29, 1992Normal, overall
G28506DigitalLoan/publicationMar. 11, 2008Normal, overall
G28507DigitalLoan/publicationMar. 11, 2008Normal, detail: flowers
132374DigitalLoan examNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E26305
132375DigitalLoan examNov. 2008Annotated conservation image E26305
ConservationX-rayOSCINov. 17, 2009X-ray films scanned/digitally composited, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 17, 2009Detail images of verso, frame, and labels (7 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 18, 2009Infrared (Fuji 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 18, 2009Normal
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 18, 2009Ultraviolet, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 18, 2009Raking light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 18, 2009Macro details (6 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 20, 2009Macro details (12 total)
ConservationDigitalOSCINov. 23, 2009Photomicrographs of surface (13 total)
G39034DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Normal, overall; composite of G39153–G39161
G39035DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Ultraviolet, overall
G39036DigitalOSCIJan. 10, 2012Normal, frame only
G39153DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39154DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39155DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39156DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39157DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39158DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39159DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39160DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
G39161DigitalOSCIJan. 9, 2012Section
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 10, 2012Transmitted light, overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 10, 2012Transmitted infrared (Fuji 1000B/2 mm filter), overall
ConservationDigitalOSCIJan. 10, 2012Transmitted infrared (Fuji 1000B/2 mm filter), detail: stamp

 

fig. 2.18
 

Cat. 8

Seascape437
1879
Oil on canvas; 72.6 × 91.6 cm (28 1/2 × 36 in.)
Signed and dated: Renoir. 79. (lower right, in purple paint)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.438

The name Renoir is closely associated with paintings of dancers, boaters, women, the celebration of life, and the enjoyment of leisure, which makes Seascape and its storm-tossed ocean quite unusual and unexpected. For his landscapes, Renoir preferred sunny days with blue skies and calm winds; rarely do we see unsettled weather, and there are only four known winter scenes.438 Regarding his 1868 painting Skaters in the Bois de Boulogne (fig. 2.48 [Dauberville 110]), he commented to Ambroise Vollard, “I have never been able to stand the cold. . . . Even if you can bear the cold, why paint snow? It is a malady of Nature.”439 Nonetheless, in Seascape the bleak, overcast sky, churning surf, and dominant cool, blue tone convey a sense of vulnerable exposure and sea-drenched cold with astonishing effectiveness.

Renoir and Normandy in 1879

The year 1879 would prove pivotal in Renoir’s career. In May he sent four works to the Salon, achieving a major triumph with the monumental Madame Georges Charpentier and Her Children (1878; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [Daulte 266; Dauberville 239]), which received an excellent hanging position thanks to Madame Charpentier’s sway with the jury.440 It also won high praise from the critics, albeit tempered by some skepticism about an Impressionist’s return to the fold.441 This success was followed in June by his solo exhibition of pastels and paintings in the offices of La vie moderne, a journal published by Madame Charpentier’s husband. That summer he returned to Chatou and the Restaurant Fournaise on the Seine to paint landscapes and portraits, and in August he arrived via supply wagon at Château de Wargemont, the Norman estate of Paul Berard. This was the first of many visits to the banking heir, who was well placed to assist the artist in obtaining commissions and new patrons. Earlier that year, Renoir had painted portraits of Berard’s eldest daughter, Marthe, and his son, André, dressed for school and carrying books.442 Over the course of his stay at Wargemont, Renoir completed portraits of the Berard family and staff in addition to landscapes (see fig. 2.41 [Dauberville 77]), still-life decorations for the château that were in keeping with its eighteenth-century architecture, and two genre paintings of Roma children.443 Renoir sent one of the genre works, Mussel Fishers at Berneval (1879; Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia [Daulte 292; Dauberville 215]), set on the Berards’ private beach on the English Channel, to the Salon in May of the next year.444 Two decorative panels illustrating the opera Tannhauser for the Dieppe home of Dr. Émile Blanche, a fan of the composer Richard Wagner, rounded out this lucrative period of commissions.445

At this time Renoir also began mentoring Dr. Blanche’s eighteen-year-old son, Jacques-Émile, in painting. This relationship continued over the next two years, even though Madame Blanche had grave reservations about Renoir as a role model. During a visit Renoir made to Dieppe in July 1881, she became so disturbed by the artist’s table manners that she banished him from the household. At another point, she expressed exasperation when she learned that he had done a sunset in ten minutes, calling it a waste of paint.446

The Wave as Impressionist Subject

Whether the portraits became too routine, or the bourgeois company of Normandy too constraining, Renoir’s choice of subject in Seascape allowed him an artistic freedom he did not enjoy with figure paintings intended for exhibition or resulting from commissions.447 Ocean views were already associated with modernism and the avant-garde. The Realist painter Gustave Courbet is reported to have reinvented the storm as a modernist theme in 1869 with a depiction of seawater blowing against the windows of his Étretat beach house.448 In treating the subject that year, Courbet was aware that he was attempting something new.449 An ambitious work resulting from his Étretat campaign, Stormy Sea (fig. 2.42), was exhibited to critical acclaim at the Salon of 1870 and became the first of Courbet’s paintings to enter the collection of the Musée du Luxembourg, in 1878. An enormous canvas measuring more than four feet high and six feet wide, and extensively worked with a palette knife, Stormy Sea no doubt made an indelible impression on Renoir, as it did on writer and critic Émile Zola when it was exhibited as part of the French Paintings section of the Exposition Universelle, which opened in May 1878. Angered that Courbet was represented by only one work when multiple paintings by academic painters William Bouguereau and Jean-Léon Gérôme were on view in the next gallery, Zola identified Stormy Sea as a rallying point for the avant-garde in his review of the Exposition Universelle.450 Another of Courbet’s wave paintings, one of a smaller scale, was included in the exhibition of French “modern masters” at Durand-Ruel, June 20–October 15, 1878, an exhibition reportedly intended to compensate for the underrepresentation of the school at the Exposition Universelle.451

The sea took on profound metaphorical significance in the writings of Courbet’s contemporaries Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, and Jules Michelet.452 Though inspired by direct observation, there is a literary sensibility to Courbet’s Stormy Sea, with its single powerful wave about to crash on the shore near wooden herring boats, thus emphasizing the potentially destructive power of nature. Renoir’s Seascape resists such narrative content. Rather, as John House has pointed out, Renoir “seems to have been more concerned with the visual spectacle before him than with any weightier significance in the theme.”453 Courbet maintained a certain distance from the shore, but Renoir dramatically shifted the point of view by placing the picture plane much closer to the water, thus transforming the viewing experience by emphasizing the visceral—a modern, secular approach to landscape akin to the idea of the individual “sensation,” which Camille Pissarro thought essential to an understanding of Impressionism.454

Renoir’s Impressionist colleague Claude Monet also placed the viewer close to the water’s edge in the sea paintings he made in the early 1880s. Though Renoir’s Seascape preceded the first of Monet’s wave paintings by two years, it is useful to compare the two artists’ treatments, as the sea and water are so prevalent in Monet’s work, and he is so closely identified with the wave theme. There are distinct differences in the two artists’ approaches to the wave painting. Monet’s Waves Breaking (fig. 2.43), for example, shows a moment when the clouds are dispersed, allowing the sunlight to create diverse color and light effects. Judging by the indicated wind direction and clouds on the horizon in Seascape, Renoir instead strove to capture the brooding, ominous atmosphere of an approaching storm. The difference in viewpoint of the two paintings is also significant. Renoir positioned the viewer at an angle to the shoreline, looking down, so that the waves are seen following one another to the shore from the left. He depicted waves in various aspects, such as the upward surge of spray on the lower left where seawater crashes into a rock. In contrast, Monet’s canvas looks directly out to sea, waves roll in with rhythmic regularity, and there are fewer reference points for identifying a specific viewing position. The elimination of the shoreline altogether in Waves Breaking represented a bold departure from traditional sea painting and may have owed something to Japanese prints by Hokusai, as well as to Renoir’s example.455 Monet and Renoir had the opportunity to compare notes on wave painting when they met in Pourville during the summer of 1882 with the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel.456 Regardless of whether Renoir shared Monet’s opinions on wave painting at this meeting, his later treatment of the subject in 1882 (fig. 2.52 [Dauberville 798]) took further Monet’s gambit of the absent shoreline.457 Moreover, by devoting most of that picture to the crest of a single breaking wave, he produced a work that Christopher Riopelle has compared to twentieth-century action painting.458 Renoir’s 1882 Wave is like a detail of Seascape. The viewing angle is much more restricted, and the horizon has been raised so that the artist could take full advantage of the potential for painterly effects in the visual play of foam and sea spray. At this point, however, Renoir may have decided that the painting of waves lay on a path he did not want to pursue further. After 1882 he made no more pictures of the subject.

Seascape as a Modern Painting Intended for Exhibition and Sale

The anecdote about Renoir painting a sunset in ten minutes reinforces the common perception that the Impressionists worked rapidly and without concern for detail or accurate representation of the motif. But close examination of Seascape as outlined in the Technical Report reveals a surprisingly complex working process. In his choice of such a large canvas (corresponding to a no. 30 portrait [[glossary:figure]] standard-size canvas, turned horizontally), Renoir may have been emboldened by Courbet’s earlier wave painting. The size of Seascape’s canvas and its degree of finish suggest that it was intended for public view, possibly for the Salon, to which Renoir had returned in 1878. It seems unlikely that he could have worked in strong winds for any length of time on a canvas of this size without substantial shelter. Thus it seems possible that he only painted the wash-like underlayers of the scene on site and then worked from a smaller sketch, perhaps a second wave painting executed during his stay in Normandy in 1879 on a more diminutive no. 15 portrait (figure) standard-size canvas (fig. 2.49 [Dauberville 149]).459 This smaller work was painted in the cursory style of a preparatory sketch and shows different lighting conditions and possibly a different location. Most of the brushstrokes are clearly visible; they consist of long strokes with a flat brush, and little attempt was made to differentiate surface textures. Such treatment is typical of rapid execution. By contrast, Seascape displays an astounding variety of brush techniques and colors—subtleties that must have taken some time to consider and apply (fig. 2.53). Given the rather elusive nature of waves, the smaller work could have been executed as a preliminary study that later inspired the artist as he painted Seascape in his studio.

The sky in the top half of Seascape consists of broad washes of cobalt blue over a white ground, resulting in a brilliant atmospheric effect. Rain falling from low-hanging clouds on the horizon was rendered in a sure hand with diagonal strokes from a stiff-bristle brush (fig. 2.54). Renoir applied thicker layers of green and yellow paint over the blue washes along the horizon to suggest the depths of the sea. All these effects seem carefully considered and range dramatically in application technique. In the bottom half of the canvas, as the rolling surf approaches the shore and begins to form waves, the impasto layers gradually build and become more tactile. In the surging spout of foam in the left foreground, white paint was applied with such gusto that one can almost hear the hiss of the foam as it breaks from the cresting waves (fig. 2.55). Rich color accents are present throughout the canvas, including the red tones in the sand under the receding waves, and the rhythmic arcs of green and red defining the volumes of water that propel the frothy crests of the waves, masterfully linking the foreground with the deeper water near the horizon (see Palette in the technical report).

Whether Monet was aware of Renoir’s Seascape and influenced by it remains an unresolved question, as the history of the painting before 1890 is unknown. The first record of the painting is its sale by the art dealer Alphonse Legrand to Durand-Ruel on February 21, 1890, where it was listed simply as Marine and assigned the stock number 2637.460 Though the painting was an ideal size for the Salon, Renoir did not submit the work to its juries, nor did he include it in his 1883 retrospective on the boulevard de la Madeleine organized by Durand-Ruel. It is possible that Legrand held the work for years unsold or in reserve for his Impressionist painting venture with Knoedler and Company, New York. Alternatively, Legrand may not have acquired Seascape until later, as it is known that Renoir frequently held back his more experimental works, not showing them until they had been “bottled away” for at least a year.461 Renoir is not as closely identified with the sea as Monet, but like Monet he felt the burden of Courbet’s influence and, when he took on the motif, addressed it in an experimental way.
John Collins

Technical Report

Technical Summary

Renoir began this painting with a [glossary:commercially primed], standard-size [glossary:canvas] with a rich, white [glossary:ground]. Areas of the ground layer appear to have a fairly uniform, diagonal, brushy texture. In some places, a stronger diagonal texture appears in subsequent paint layers, as in the center, where the artist used strokes of thick white or light-blue paint that suggest rain, over which he applied a thin blue [glossary:wash] that sank into the depressions left by the brush. While the thin layers of paint in many parts of the background suggest a wider, stiff-bristle brush that scratched through the thin paint to reveal the ground, the foreground seems for the most part to have been articulated with fine, soft-bristle brushes that left very little impression on the thick paint. Many of the early layers are relatively thin, may have been wiped or rubbed, and were allowed to dry before the later layers were applied, suggesting a limited number of [glossary:wet-in-wet] campaigns. The sky is generally described through translucent films of color, while the foreground waves are smoothly blended, opaque combinations of pale pink, blue, and gray. Thinly painted deep blues and, sometimes, brown hint at the depth beyond the translucent waves. As a final step, Renoir employed heavy [glossary:impasto], often in pure white, to articulate the frothy, breaking waves.

Multilayer Interactive Image Viewer

The multilayer interactive image viewer is designed to facilitate the viewer’s exploration and comparison of the technical images (fig. 2.51).462

Signature

Signed and dated: Renoir. 79. (lower right, in purple paint) (fig. 1.2fig. 1.1).463

Structure and Technique

Support
Canvas

Flax (commonly known as linen).464

Standard format

The original dimensions of the canvas were approximately 72 × 92.5 cm, measuring from the original foldover edge. This probably corresponds to a no. 30 portrait ([glossary:figure]) standard-size (92 × 73 cm) canvas, turned horizontally.465

Weave

[glossary:Plain weave]. Average [glossary:thread count] (standard deviation): 30.2V (0.7) × 24.3H (0.9) threads/cm. The vertical threads were determined to correspond to the [glossary:warp] and the horizontal threads to the [glossary:weft].466

Canvas characteristics

The [glossary:X-ray] shows mild [glossary:cusping] corresponding to the placement of the original tacks. There are also some thread irregularities and double thread faults. The strongest fault appears in the X-ray as a horizontal line across the top of the painting (parallel to and below the top stretcher bar). Here the irregularity of the canvas caught more of the ground layer during preparation, resulting in a denser, more [glossary:radio-opaque] area. Similar horizontal bands are visible throughout the top half of the painting.

Stretching

Current stretching: The painting was lined at an unknown date, and its dimensions appear slightly altered (extended horizontally and somewhat shortened vertically) as a result. In addition, a [glossary:hardboard] panel was placed between the lined painting and the stretcher; it is unclear whether the painting is attached to the hardboard (see Conservation History).

Original stretching: Based on cusping visible in the X-ray, the original tacks were placed approximately 6.5 cm apart.

Stretcher/strainer

Though the painting was lined as part of a previous, undocumented conservation treatment, it appears to have retained its original [glossary:stretcher] (see Conservation History).467 The canvas is tacked to a five-member, keyable, mortise-and-tenon stretcher with vertical [glossary:crossbar] (fig. 2.20). Depth: 1.5 cm.

Preparatory Layers
Sizing

Not determined (probably glue).468

Ground application/texture

The artist began with a commercially primed canvas, with the preparation extending to the edges of the tacking margin. The X-ray shows sweeping, radio-opaque forms that extend from the top edge and curve downward and to the right, possibly suggesting that additional ground material was added to the compositional area by the artist or a color merchant.469 The shape of the sweeps suggests application with a [glossary:palette knife] (fig. 2.39). Additionally, there is a ridge of ground material at the right foldover edge, where a strong, curving stroke visible in the X-ray—starting along the top edge at the center and sweeping to the right edge—appears to end; it may be excess ground material that was pushed over during application (fig. 1.3). A close look at the surface reveals evidence of a brushy, diagonal texture (fig. 1.4).470 This texture was probably applied lightly to the surface of the ground after initial application and working, but while the preparation was still wet.

In the cross section, a clear distinction between the separate layers of ground material is not evident; rather, the ground appears to be either a very thick, single layer or two or more layers of a similar composition applied in quick succession (fig. 3.60).471 The overall thickness of the ground is approximately 10–90 µm.

 

Color

The ground appears white; no additional colored particles were observed under stereomicroscopic examination of the surface or in cross section (fig. 2.50).

Materials/composition

The ground is predominantly lead white with barium sulfate and small amounts of silicates, calcium compounds, and traces of bone black.472 The [glossary:binder] is estimated to be [glossary:oil].473

Compositional Planning/Underdrawing/Painted Sketch
Extent/character

No [glossary:underdrawing] was observed with [glossary:infrared reflectography] or under microscopic examination.

Paint Layer
Application/technique and artist’s revisions

The work is very thinly painted in many areas, especially in the top half, where Renoir made use of the reflective qualities of the ground and [glossary:underpainting]. The thinness of the paint layer, the sketchy brushwork, and the impasto that is limited to the foreground suggest rapid execution and a limited number of wet-in-wet campaigns. The artist utilized translucent [glossary:pigments] such as red lake, emerald green, and cobalt blue, in addition to thinning his paint with turpentine for a wash (e.g., in the sky), and using additional medium for a glaze-like effect (fig. 2.22).474 Above the horizon line on the far right, Renoir may have used a cloth or similar tool to wipe away some of the paint, leaving an even thinner, more translucent film of color with a soft, indistinct edge. These kinds of thin applications also form the underlayers throughout most of the foreground, creating a play of colors between the translucent washes and the more opaque paints applied in later stages. In some areas, particularly in the center, Renoir used long, downward diagonal brushstrokes of white or light blue to establish texture and space, then crossed the pattern with dilute blue applied with a stiff-bristle brush. This directional underpaint can be seen in the X-ray, especially in the upper left quadrant (fig. 2.39). The fluid blue paint application produced two effects: first, the blue settled into the depressions of the underlying white paint, accentuating the diagonal texture; and second, the use of a stiff-bristle brush (which cut through the thin paint, exposing the white underpaint and ground) created a much finer, subtler set of diagonals, which sometimes run almost perpendicular to the textured strokes beneath (fig. 2.23). The effect was further complicated where the brush caught the thread tops, creating the illusion of droplets. In other areas of the sky and clouds, the artist applied paint with a stiff-bristle brush and used varying pressure to increase or decrease the presence of the stroke and overall texture.

In the foreground, Renoir seems to have initially established the space with thin, opaque, modulated blue-grays, over which he layered extensive impasto with soft-bristle brushes to describe the crash and froth of the waves (fig. 2.24). In some areas, he appears to have used a palette knife initially to spread the paint onto the canvas, and then worked it further with a soft brush (fig. 2.25). Along the bottom edge to the left of center, the artist dragged a brush or possibly a palette knife loaded with thick, dry paint horizontally across the surface, catching just the tops of the vertical threads, to create the illusion of water pulling away from the beach (fig. 2.26). While the painting appears somewhat monochromatic, with shades of blue and blue-green throughout punctuated by the white froth of the waves, Renoir chose to emphasize and add depth to specific locations in the waves with a riot of color applied with a fine-tip brush (fig. 2.27).

Painting tools

Soft- and stiff-bristle brushes with strokes up to 1.5 cm wide; palette knife; possibly cloth for wiping.

Palette

Analysis indicates the presence of the following pigments:475 lead white, cobalt blue,476 emerald green, iron oxide red and/or yellow, chrome-based yellow,477 bone black, and red lake.

The observation of a characteristic salmon-colored [glossary:fluorescence] under [glossary:UV] light suggests the presence of red lake in the upper right sky, foreground beach, and waves near the horizon on the left (fig. 2.40).478

Binding media

Oil (estimated).479

Surface Finish
Varnish layer/media

The work has a [glossary:synthetic varnish] with residues of natural resin in areas of impasto; these residues are readily visible under UV examination, appearing milky yellow-green. The current varnish was applied in 1962 and replaced a discolored [glossary:natural-resin varnish] applied in 1922. It is not clear whether the earliest documented natural-resin varnish was original to the painting.

Conservation History

The earliest documented treatment of the painting was near the time of its acquisition in 1922, when it was cleaned and varnished.480 A letter from 1921 recommending treatment suggests that the cleaning was a grime cleaning “to be sure the surface is free from smoke and dirt” and makes no mention of an existing varnish or varnish removal.481 The next documented treatment occurred in 1962.482 At this time, the painting was described as being lined with glue paste, stretched over a hardboard panel, and tacked to a five-member stretcher. The presence of French newspaper on the verso as an interleaf between the stretcher and a layer of brown paper tape may indicate that the work was first treated in France. Abrasions, [glossary:cleavage], and loss, especially on the right side of the painting, were also noted at this time, and the painting had a discolored natural-resin varnish. During the 1962 treatment, grime and varnish were removed, and areas of cleavage, mostly on the right, were consolidated with wax.483 Losses were retouched with oil methacrylate paints, and the work was given a synthetic varnish (an isolating layer of polyvinyl acetate [PVA] AYAA, followed by methacrylate resin L-46, inpainting, and a final spray of L-46).

Condition Summary

The work is in good condition, with a stable [glossary:aqueous lining] and hardboard backing between the canvas and the stretcher. The board is slightly warped, causing the bottom left corner of the canvas to pull away from the stretcher and giving the painting a somewhat concave appearance. The stretcher is tapped out slightly, to dimensions a bit larger than the hardboard, and covered almost entirely with brown paper tape. Beneath this tape in many areas are spots of red adhesive that appear to be vermilion- and iron oxide–containing sealing wax, used here to hold an interleaf of French newspaper between the stretcher and the paper tape (fig. 2.28).484 Cleavage and loss have been noted repeatedly throughout the painting’s history and seem to relate to the ground separating from the canvas (especially on the right). This is probably the result of canvas shrinkage either before or during the lining process. There is also abrasion along raised canvas threads and rebate abrasion.
Kelly Keegan

Frame

Current frame (2004): The frame is not original to the painting. It is an Italian, eighteenth-century, gilt torus frame with a scotia frieze. The frame has water gilding over yellow-orange bole on gesso. The gilding is burnished overall, highly on the torus and ovolos and lightly in other areas. The frame retains its original gilding and glue sizing. The poplar molding is face and side mitered and joined with blind-bridled tenons. Parchment was glued over the face miters prior to gessoing. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, is ovolo outer molding; scotia side; torus face with a three-quarter-round profile; fillet; scotia-edged frieze; ovolo; and fillet sight molding (fig. 2.56).485

Previous frame (installed mid-1960s, removed 2004): The painting was previously housed in an American (New York), mid-twentieth-century reproduction of an Italian Baroque bolection frame with a centered, spiraled leaf outer molding and a fruit, flower, and husk sight molding. The frame had water gilding over red bole and gesso and was very heavily toned. The carved basswood molding was mitered and nailed (fig. 2.58).486

Previous frame (installed by 1933, removed mid-1960s): The work was previously housed in a late-nineteenth–early-twentieth-century, Louis XIV Revival, convex frame with very deeply recessed cast plaster ornament of acanthus leaves at the miters and floral and foliate-scroll centers bracketed by undulating foliage and pendent bellflowers. The frame had water and oil gilding on a dark red-brown bole over gesso and cast plaster. The sides and frieze were burnished, and the ornament was selectively burnished. The gilding was toned with dark raw umber and a white wash and speckled with black and white. The molding was mitered and nailed. The molding, from the perimeter to the interior, was ovolo with leaf-tip ornament; scotia side; convex face with acanthus leaves at the miters, floral and foliate-scroll centers bracketed by undulating foliage and pendent bellflowers on a quadrillage bed; hollow frieze; ogee with leaf-tip ornament; cove; and fillet with cove sight edge (fig. 2.57).
Kirk Vuillemot

Provenance

Acquired from [unknown] by Alphonse Legrand, Paris, by Feb. 21, 1890.487

Sold by Alphonse Legrand, Paris, to Durand-Ruel, Paris, Feb. 21, 1890.488

Sold by Durand-Ruel, New York, to W. C. Van Horne, Montreal, Apr. 19, 1892, for $1,000.489

Acquired by Eugene Glaenzer, New York, by Dec. 14, 1892.490

Sold by Eugene Glaenzer, New York, to Durand-Ruel, New York, Dec. 14, 1892.491

Sold by Durand-Ruel, New York, to Potter Palmer, Chicago, Dec. 14, 1892, for $1,250.492

By descent from Potter Palmer (died 1902), Chicago, to the Palmer family.493

Given by the Palmer family to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1922.

Exhibition History

Possibly Paris, Durand-Ruel, Exposition A. Renoir, May 1892, cat. 100.494

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, Feb. 3–Apr. 1, 1973, cat. 27 (ill.).

Highland Park, Ill., Neison Harris, Mar. 7–May 21, 1975, no cat.495

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape, June 28–Sept. 16, 1984, cat. 120 (ill.); Art Institute of Chicago, Oct. 23, 1984–Jan. 6, 1985; Paris, Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais, as L’impressionnisme et le paysage français, Feb. 4–Apr. 22, 1985.

Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, Monet: The Seine and the Sea, 1878–1883, Aug. 6–Oct. 26, 2003, cat. 89 (ill.).496

Art Institute of Chicago, Manet and the Sea, Oct. 20, 2003–Jan. 19, 2004, cat. 117 (ill.); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Feb. 15–May 30, 2004; Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, June 18–Sept. 26, 2004.

London, National Gallery, Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, Feb. 21–May 20, 2007, cat. 45 (ill.); Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, June 8–Sept. 9, 2007; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 4, 2007–Jan. 6, 2008.

 

Selected References

Possibly Durand-Ruel, Paris, Exposition A. Renoir, exh. cat. (Imp. de l’Art/E. Ménard, 1892), p. 47, no. 100.497

Art Institute of Chicago, Handbook of Sculpture, Architecture, and Paintings, pt. 2, Paintings (Art Institute of Chicago, 1922), p. 69, cat. 845.498

Art Institute of Chicago, “Accessions and Loans,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 16, 3 (May 1922), p. 47.

Art Institute of Chicago, “The Potter Palmer Collection of Paintings,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 16, 3 (May 1922), p. 38.499

Art Institute of Chicago, A Guide to the Paintings in the Permanent Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1925), p. 150, cat. 845.500

Ambroise Vollard, Renoir: An Intimate Record, trans. Harold L. Van Doren and Randolph T. Weaver (Knopf, 1925), p. 239.

M. C., “Renoirs in the Institute,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 19, 3 (Mar. 1925), p. 32.

M. C., “Renoirs in the Institute (Continued),” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 19, 4 (Apr. 1925), p. 47 (ill.).

Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir (Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1929), p. 120, no. 109 (ill.).

Daniel Catton Rich, “Französische Impressionisten im Art Institute zu Chicago,” Pantheon: Monatsschrift für Freunde und Sammler der Kunst 11, 3 (Mar. 1933), p. 78. Translated by C. C. H. Drechsel as “French Impressionists in the Art Institute of Chicago,” Pantheon/Cicerone (Mar. 1933), p. 18.

Ulrich Thieme and Felix Becker, “Renoir,” in Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler, vol. 28, Ramsden–Rosa (Seemann, 1934), p. 170.

Albert C. Barnes and Violette de Mazia, The Art of Renoir (Minton, Balch, 1935), pp. 74; 75; 451, no. 92.

Duveen Galleries, New York, Renoir: Centennial Loan Exhibition, 1841–1941; For the Benefit of the Free French Relief Committee, exh. cat. (Vilmorin/Bradford, 1941), p. 132.

Frederick A. Sweet, “Potter Palmer and the Painting Department,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 37, 6 (Nov. 1943), p. 86.

Florence Hope, “A Late Renoir Recently Added to the Institute’s Collection,” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago 39, 7 (Dec. 1945), p. 98.

Ishbel Ross, Silhouette in Diamonds: The Life of Mrs. Potter Palmer (Harper & Bros., 1960), p. 155.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago: A Catalogue of the Picture Collection (Art Institute of Chicago, 1961), p. 396.501

Charles C. Cunningham and Satoshi Takahashi, Shikago bijutsukan [Art Institute of Chicago], Museums of the World 32 (Kodansha, 1970), pp. 53, pl. 39; 160.

Art Institute of Chicago, Paintings by Renoir, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago, 1973), pp. 80; 82–83, cat. 27 (ill.).

Andrea P. A. Belloli, ed., A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape, exh. cat. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984), p. 366.

Sylvie Gache-Patin and Scott Schaefer, “Impressionism and the Sea,” in A Day in the Country: Impressionism and the French Landscape, ed. Andrea P. A. Belloli, exh. cat. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984), pp. 288; 290; 291, no. 120 (ill.).

Sylvie Gache-Patin and Scott Schaefer, “La mer,” in Réunion des Musées Nationaux, L’impressionnisme et le paysage français, exh. cat. (Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1985), pp. 308; 312–13, no. 120 (ill.).

Nicholas Wadley, ed., Renoir: A Retrospective (Hugh Lauter Levin/Macmillan, 1987), p. 195, pl. 65.

Michael Howard, ed., The Impressionists by Themselves: A Selection of Their Paintings, Drawings, and Sketches with Extracts from Their Writings (Conran Octopus, 1991), pp. 256 (ill.), 320.

Lesley Stevenson, Renoir (Bison Group, 1991), pp. 100–01 (ill.).

Shigenobu Kimura et al., Seikimatsu no yume / The Dream of Fin de Siècle, Meigo e no tabi / Journey into the Masterpieces 21 (Kodansha, 1992), pp. 70, pl. 3-24; 144.

Charles F. Stuckey, with the assistance of Sophia Shaw, Claude Monet, 1840–1926, exh. cat. (Art Institute of Chicago/Thames & Hudson, 1995), p. 204, fig. 36.

Francesca Castellani, Pierre-Auguste Renoir: La vita e l’opera (Mondadori, 1996), pp. 73, 137 (ill.).

Douglas W. Druick, Renoir, Artists in Focus (Art Institute of Chicago/Abrams, 1997), pp. 33 (detail); 46; 72; 89, pl. 8; 110.

Gilles Néret, Renoir: Painter of Happiness, 1841–1919, trans. Josephine Bacon (Taschen, 2001), p. 121 (ill.).

Michael Clarke and Richard Thomson, Monet: The Seine and the Sea, 1878–1883, exh. cat. (National Galleries of Scotland, 2003), p. 165, cat. 89 (ill.).

Joseph J. Rishel, “Pierre-Auguste Renoir,” in Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener, Manet and the Sea, exh. cat. (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2003), p. 243.

Richard Thomson, “Looking to Paint: Monet 1878–1883,” in Michael Clarke and Richard Thomson, Monet: The Seine and the Sea, 1878–1883, exh. cat. (National Galleries of Scotland, 2003), p. 33.

Juliet Wilson-Bareau and David Degener, Manet and the Sea, exh. cat. (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2003), pp. 248, pl. 117; 261.

Frank Whitford, “A Lasting Impression,” Sunday Times (Scotland), Aug. 10, 2003, p. 17.

Isabelle Cahn, L’impressionnisme, ou l’oeil naturel, L’aventure de l’art (Chêne, 2005), pp. 52 (ill.), 219.

Kyoko Kagawa, Runowaru [Pierre-Auguste Renoir], Seiyo kaiga no kyosho [Great masters of Western art] 4 (Shogakukan, 2006), pp. 33–34 (ill.).

Heather Lemonedes, Lynn Federle Orr, and David Steel, eds., Monet in Normandy, exh. cat. (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco/North Carolina Museum of Art/Cleveland Museum of Art/Rizzoli, 2006), pp. 33; 34, fig. 21.

Colin B. Bailey, “‘The Greatest Luminosity, Colour and Harmony’: Renoir’s Landscapes, 1862–1883,” in Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), p. 65. Translated as Colin B. Bailey, “‘Un maximum de luminosité; de coloration, et d’harmonie”: Les paysages de Renoir, 1862–1883,” in Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, trans. Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), p. 65.

Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, eds., Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), pp. 2–3 (detail); 4; 199–202, cat. 45 (ill.); 256. Translated by Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer as Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), pp. 2–3 (detail); 4; 199–202, cat. 45 (ill.); 256.

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, with the collaboration of Camille Frémontier-Murphy, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. 1, 1858–1881 (Bernheim-Jeune, 2007), p. 211, cat. 152 (ill.).

Robert McDonald Parker, “Topographical Chronology 1860–1883,” in Renoir Landscapes, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London, 2007), p. 276. Translated as Robert McDonald Parker, “Chronologie,” in Les paysages de Renoir, 1865–1883, ed. Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, trans. Marie-Françoise Dispa, Lise-Éliane Pomier, and Laura Meijer, exh. cat. (National Gallery, London/5 Continents, 2007), p. 276.

Charles Stuckey, “The Predications and Implications of Monet’s Series,” in The Repeating Image: Multiples in French Painting from David to Matisse, ed. Eik Kahng, exh. cat. (Walters Art Museum/Yale University Press, 2007), pp. 122–23, n. 22.

Richard R. Brettell and C. D. Dickerson III, From the Private Collections of Texas: European Art, Ancient to Modern (Kimbell Art Museum/Yale University Press, 2009), p. 302, fig. 2.

John House, The Genius of Renoir: Paintings from the Clark, with an essay by James A. Ganz, exh. cat. (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute/Museo Nacional del Prado/Yale University Press, 2010), p. 74.

Other Documentation

Documentation from the Durand-Ruel Archives

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel Paris 2637, livre de stock Paris 1884–90502

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel New York 900, livre de stock New York 1888–93

Inventory number
Stock Durand-Ruel New York 1011, livre de stock New York 1888–93503

Other Documents

Label (fig. 2.32)

Inscription (fig. 2.33)

Labels and Inscriptions

Undated

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (black marker)
Content: 1922.438 (fig. 2.29)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (red paint)
Content: 22.438 (fig. 2.30)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: [#] 21 (fig. 2.31)

Pre-1980

Label
Location: stretcher
Method: printed label with handwritten script
Content: DURAND-RUEL / PARIS, 16, Rue Laffitte / NEW YORK, 315 Fifth Avenue / Renoir No 900 / marine / iss (fig. 2.32)

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script (graphite)
Content: D.R. N.Y. / 900 (fig. 2.33)

Inscription
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: BVC1 1471NY (fig. 2.33)

Number
Location: stretcher
Method: handwritten script
Content: 4129N.Y. (fig. 2.33)

Post-1980

Label
Location: stretcher bar
Method: printed and typed label with blue stamp
Content: FROM / THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / CHICAGO ILLINOIS 60603, U. S. A. / To / Renoir, Pierre Auguste / The Wave 1879 / 1922.438 / [blue stamp, lower right] Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.34)

Stamp
Location: stretcher bar
Method: blue stamp
Content: Inventory—1980–1981 (fig. 2.34)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed and typed label
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / artist Pierre Auguste Renoir / title The Wave, 1879 / medium oil on canvas / credit / acc. # 1922.438 / LZ-341-001 1M 1/90 (Rev. 1/90) (fig. 2.35)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label with handwritten script
Content: Monet: THE SEINE AND THE SEA—Vétheuil and Normandy, / UK, Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy Crate 21 TELNG 03.068 / 089 / Pierre-Auguste Renoir / Seascape (The Wave) / Oil on canvas / 64.80 x 99.20 cm / USA, Chicago, The Art Institute (fig. 2.36)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label with handwritten script
Content: THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO / Manet and the Sea / The Art Institute of Chicago: 10/20/03–1/4/04 / Philadelphia Museum of Art: 2/15–5/30/04 / Van Gogh Museum: 6/18–9/26/04 / AIC/PMA/VGM / Cat. #: 117 / Pierre Auguste Renoir, French; 1841–1919 / SEASCAPE, 1879 / oil on canvas / 64.8 × 99.2 × cm., (25 1/2 × 39 1/8 in.) / The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA / Crate No 76 (fig. 2.37)

Label
Location: backing board
Method: printed label
Content: THE NATIONAL GALLERY / Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN / Telephone 020 7839 3321 / Exhibition: Renoir Landscapes 1865–1881 / Venue(s): The National Gallery (London) 21/02/2007 to 20/05/2007 / National Gallery of Canada 08/06/2007 to 09/09/2007 / Philadelphia Museum of Art 30/09/2007 to 06/01/2008 / Number: X5663 Cat No: 45 / Artist: Pierre-Auguste RENOIR / Title: The Wave / Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Potter Palmer Collection, 1922.438 (fig. 2.38)

Examination and Analysis Techniques

X-radiography

Westinghouse X-ray unit, scanned on Epson Expressions 10000XL flatbed scanner. Scans were digitally composited by Robert G. Erdmann, University of Arizona.

Infrared Reflectography

Inframetrics Infracam with 1.5–1.73 µm filter; Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm); Goodrich/Sensors Unlimited SU640SDV-1.7RT with H filter (1.1–1.4 µm) and J filter (1.5–1.7 µm).

Transmitted Infrared

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-Nite 1000B/2 mm filter (1.0–1.1 µm).

Visible Light

Natural-light, raking-light, and transmitted-light overalls and macrophotography: Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter.

Ultraviolet

Fujifilm S5 Pro with X-NiteCC1 filter and Kodak Wratten 2E filter.

High-Resolution Visible Light (and Ultraviolet)

Sinar P3 camera with Sinarback eVolution 75 H (B+W 486 UV/IR cut MRC filter).

Microscopy and Photomicrographs

Sample and cross-sectional analysis were performed using a Zeiss Axioplan 2 research microscope equipped with reflected light/UV fluorescence and a Zeiss AxioCam MRc5 digital camera. Types of illumination used: darkfield, brightfield, differential interference contrast (DIC), and UV. In situ photomicrographs were taken with a Wild Heerbrugg M7A StereoZoom microscope fitted with an Olympus DP71 microscope digital camera.

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF)

Several spots on the painting were analyzed in situ with a Bruker/Keymaster TRACeR III-V with rhodium tube.

Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)

Zeiss Universal research microscope.

Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (SEM/EDX)

Cross sections were analyzed after carbon coating with a Hitachi S-3400N-II VP-SEM with an Oxford EDS and a Hitachi solid-state BSE detector. Analysis was performed at the Northwestern University Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental (NUANCE) Center, Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC) facility.

Automated Thread Counting

Thread count and weave information were determined by Thread Count Automation Project software.504

Image Registration Software

Overlay images were registered using a novel image-based algorithm developed by Damon M. Conover (GW), Dr. John K. Delaney (GW, NGA), and Murray H. Loew (GW) of the George Washington University’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.505

Image Inventory

The image inventory compiles records of all known images of the artwork on file in the Conservation Department, the Imaging Department, and the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago (fig. 2.19).