Pierre-Auguste Renoir

In the Garden

In the Garden
(click image to zoom-in)
Author: Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Painting, Oil on canvas, 170.5x112.5 cm
Origin: France, 1885

Renoir, like all the Impressionists, avoided any hint of an anecdotal theme. In this case, however, he almost succumbed to the temptation to create a topical work. He chose a theme that for any other painter of his day might have invited pseudo-Romantic declamation, or even sentimental tastelessness, but somehow avoided these dangers. The expectant look of the young man, his entire demeanour, leaves no doubt as to his intentions: he is asking for the hand and heart of the young woman. The fixed gaze of the girl reflects her transport into the future. The seriousness of the young couple's intentions is suggested by the cross-worn by the girl, an unusual detail for Renoir. It is placed in the centre of the composition, and focuses its meaning.

In all love scenes, Renoir showed a woman with whom he was involved, or wanted to be. However, he always painted a stand-in for himself. The male partner in this picture is another artist, Henri Laurent, whom Renoir put together with Aline Charigot, the artist's girlfriend and later his wife. In all probability, the figure of the girl has been painted not from life but from memory.

Style: Impressionism
Source of entry: formerly in the collection of Otto Gerstenberg, later his daughter's, Margarete Scharf, Berlin
Exibition: French Painting: 19th - 20th centuries
Transferred from Germany after World War II

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