First Major Exhibition Exploring the Landscapes of Renoir

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the only U.S. venue for the first exhibition to explore the inventiveness and importance of the landscape painting of Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Renoir Landscapes: Oct. 4, 2007-Janu. 6, 2008.

Renoir was the single most celebrated figure painter among the French Impressionists, but his landscapes – remarkable in their freshness and immediacy – demonstrate the deep sources of his inspiration in nature and his total immersion in plein-air effects of daylight. Renoir_Image 3.jpg

Le Pont Neuf, 1872, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919). Oil on canvas, 29 inches by 37 inches. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Alisa Mellon Bruce Collection.
© National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Image 2005 Board of Trustees

Organized by the National Gallery, London, the National Gallery, Canada, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the exhibition contains 61 works including loans from public and private collections in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. It examines the painter as one of the most original landscape artists of his age. ?

The son of a tailor and dressmaker, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges in 1841. His family moved to Paris when he was four and by age 13 he had apprenticed as a porcelain painter.
Renoir_Image 1.jpg
A Clearing in the Woods, c. 1865, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919). Oil on canvas, 22 1/2 inches by 32 1/2 inches. The Detroit Institute of Arts; Bequest of Ruth Nugent Head, in memory of her mother, Anne E. Kresge, and her husband, Henry W. Nugent Head.
Photograph © 1993 The Detroit Institute of Arts

The exhibition begins with works from the 1860s, shortly after Renoir met Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley in the studio of Charles Gleyre and with them began absorbing the tradition of plein-air painting. Such early works as The Clearing in the Woods (The Detroit Institute of Arts, about 1865), painted in the forest of Fontainebleau, respond to the tradition of Barbizon painting, as well as to the mid-century luminaries Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Gustave Courbet.

Fourteen of the works in the exhibition have not been seen before in American museums and some are little-known, including Woman with a Parasol in a Garden, 1875-6 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid), a classic Impressionist composition, and In the Woods, about 1877 (National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo), painted in a technique anticipating Pointillism by nearly a decade. Renoir_Image 6.jpg

The Skiff (La Yole), 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919). Oil on canvas
36.25 inches by 28 inches. National Gallery, London

The National Gallery, London, has published the lavishly illustrated catalogue, which includes essays by Professor John House of the Courtauld Institute, London, Colin B. Bailey and Christopher Riopelle, and contributions by John Zarobell and Simon Kelly, Associate Curator of European Painting and Sculpture, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It is available in hardcover ($65) and softcover ($45) at the Museum Store or online at or by calling (800) 329-4856.Renoir_Image 8.jpg

Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers’ Lunch), 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919). Oil on canvas, 21 5/8 inches by 25 11/16 inches. The Art Institute of Chicago.
© The Art Institute of Chicago. Photo Robert Hashimoto

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