26 April 2012

Renoir at the Frick

"Dance at Bougival" Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1883) 

A recent Sunday morning found me at the Frick Collection surrounded by Belle Époque beauties.

"Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting” features nine works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The paintings are unusual not just because of their large size but because Renoir was the only Impressionist to work in the full-length format (the others thought it was too traditional). Looking at these paintings is like looking at French fashion plates; Renoir paid attention to every intricate detail of the subjects’ clothes, a topic that he was very interested in (his father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress).

Of the nine paintings in the exhibit only one, “La Promenade,” is from the Frick Collection. The rest are on loan from various museums. Three of the paintings feature a dancing couple. Grouped together, it’s hard not to compare them. While there are differences among the three men, it’s the three women who win the viewer’s attention: two wear red hats, one is without gloves while another bares her arms. All show varying degrees of closeness in their partner’s embrace. “Dance at Bougival” from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was the one that I liked best (I have fond memories of it from my days in Boston).

Photo: Michele.

After a quick tour to visit some paintings in the permanent collection, I stepped outside and was blown away by the burst of colour coming from the Frick’s garden. A glorious bed of purple pansies with red tulips waving above was an incredible sight to see and made me wish I could paint them (unfortunately, I can just about manage stick figures).

Photo: Michele.

The Renoir exhibit is at the Frick through May 13, 2012. For more information, visit here.

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