posted 2012-04-07 16:09:46

Renoir at the Frick

Frick Collection borrows Pierre-Auguste Renoir pieces for an exhibit

Ignacio-Alexander Pintor

Contributing Writer

Image courtesy of
The Frick Collection, located on 1 East 70th Street, is displaying nine of Pierre- Auguste Renoir’s celebrated pieces in an exhibit titled “Renoir, Impressionism and Full Length Painting.” The art pieces were loaned from seven museums across the world, including the National Gallery in London and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the founding fathers of the Impressionist movement and the only impressionist able to incorporate the fine linear style and details of the Renaissance movement into his work. It has been rumored that Renoir was inspired to place a stronger emphasis on detail in his art after a trip to Italy where he saw artworks from Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci. The nine works on display at the Frick Collection are a celebration of Renoir’s bold artistry, and his love for fashion. It has been said that Renoir was the most fashion-savvy of all the impressionists.

The Umbrellas is a portrait of a bustling Paris street in the rain that showcases the transformation of Renoir’s work and the differences in his use of brushworks. Also visible in the portrait is Renoir’s endearing appreciation of fashion at the time. It is the fashion of the characters that allows the audience to take notice of the time gap and separate the two different stages in which the portrait was worked on.

The first stage, painted in 1881, features a mother and her two young daughters. Renoir used a bright palette and soft brushwork reminiscent of his early Impressionist style. The shades of the first stage add an interesting focus to light in the portrait, a technique Impressionist art is often associated with. Impressionist, Claude Monet, once said “it matters not what an artist is painting but the way the light snuggles with it.” Despite the apparent rain in the portrait, the delicate craft of the first stage invites the audience for an afternoon promenade.

During the piece’s second stage in 1885, Renoir added two central figures to the left of the portrait, a man and a woman. Renoir’s technical prowess and creativity clearly blossomed over those four years, as the facial features of those two people are captured with more precision. The woman, who’s unprotected by an umbrella, wears a graceful, dark blue dress that stands out in the painting due to her simple beauty. The two figures are painted in a much more subtle manner. Flirting with interesting touches from Renaissance art, one can spot the smoothness of the colors and in the very linear handling.

The portraits of dancing couples, which are titled Dance in the City, Dance in the Country and Dance at Bougival, are truly a sight to see. The lovely attire worn by the couples in each portrait elevates the elegance of the scenes depicted. Dance in the City shows a couple dressed luxuriously for a performance of delightfully formal dancing. Dance in the Country captures the viewer with a much more humble approach. Set in countryside scenery, the couple’s fashionable clothing is as alluring as the chemistry in their dancing.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s ambition and creative genius set him apart from any other impressionist artist in the movement. His paintings are notable for their dynamic light and saturated color, and often focusing on women in intimate and candid situations. The work on display at the Frick Collection is sure to touch even the most innocent art lover in ways no other impressionist artist will.

“Renoir, Impressionism and Full Length Painting” will be running at the Frick Collection until May 13th.