Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919) Paysage bord de mer (Painted in 1912)

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Lot 31
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
(French, 1841-1919)
Paysage bord de mer

Sold for £ 278,500 (US$ 359,382) inc. premium
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Paysage bord de mer
stamped with the artist's signature 'Renoir.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
19.4 x 28.2cm (7 5/8 x 11 1/8in).
Painted in 1912


  • This work will be included in the critical catalogue of Pierre-Auguste Renoir currently being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute.

    Succession Renoir.
    Galerie Fahnemann GmbH, Berlin, by 1994.
    Private collection, Germany, by 1996.
    Kunsthandel Hagemeier, Frankfurt am Main (acquired from the above in 2009).
    Private collection, Germany (acquired from the above in 2009).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2011.

    Bernheim-Jeune, Renoir's Atelier, San Francisco, 1989, no. 440 (illustrated pl. 141 as part of a pre-existing canvas, and titled 'Thurneyssen, trois paysages').
    G.-P & M. Dauberville, Renoir, catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et acquarelles, Vol. V, 1911 - 1919 & Ier supplément, Paris, 2014, no. 3796 (illustrated p. 114).

    Following his move to the South of France in the early 1900s, Renoir experienced a renewed passion for landscape painting inspired not only by the Italian masters he had seen on his Grand Tour in the 1880s but also by his rediscovery of French 18th century landscapists like Claude Lorrain and Watteau.

    Indeed the present work, Paysage bord de mer, is typical of the bucolic scenes that occupied Renoir as he depicted his new surroundings near Cagnes-sur-Mer. Having moved to the Côte d'Azur on the recommendation of his doctor, Renoir instantly fell in love with the light and colours of the South: the rose pinks, russets, silvery greens and most importantly the rich blues of the sea and sky. The boldness of the bright hues found in Paysage bord de mer are also a testament to the affection Renoir had retained for one of the key tenents of Impressionism: painting en plein air. 'In the open air, one feels encouraged to put on the canvas tones that one couldn't imagine in the subdued light of the studio' (P.-A. Renoir quoted in M. Lucy & J. House, Renoir in the Barnes Foundation, New Haven & London, 2012, p. 217).

    Renoir often depicted the olive groves and gardens of his home in Cagnes, a group of tumble-down outhouses and his own purpose-built villa Les Collettes, observing the changes of light and colour in the nature that surrounded him. In the present work however, the artist shows us the broad sweep of the sea with the Cap d'Antibes rising up in the background. This view is undoubtedly that seen from the very height of the medieval hill-top of Cagnes, one of the most evocative vistas on the Côte d'Azur. Renoir remarked to the painter Albert André that the landscape around Cagnes reminded him of Watteau's pastoral scenes, and he admitted his admiration for the 18th century masters in his discussions with René Gimpel just a few years after painting the present work: 'A painter can't be great if he doesn't understand landscape. Landscape, in the past, has been a term of contempt, particularly in the eighteenth century; but still, that century that I adore did produce some landscapists. I'm one with the eighteenth century. With all modesty, I consider not only that my art descends from a Watteau, a Fragonard, a Hubert Robert, but also that I am one with them' (P.-A. Renoir quoted in exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, p. 277). There is also undoubtedly a debt in Renoir's palette at this time to Raphael, whose work struck the artist while on his great Italian journey in 1881 - 1882, and there are elements of the idealised landscapes of the Renaissance masters in the hazy sweep of blue, green and pink found in the present work.

    Like many of his fellow artists at the time, Renoir had grown dissatisfied with the ideological constraints of traditional Impressionism, and by 1900 he was actively seeking a new direction. This marriage of his early interest in artists such as Watteau, Delacroix and Fragonard (whose works he had studied at the Louvre as a young man) with the classical influences of Raphael and Piero della Francesca produced in Renoir's works a late blossoming. Despite his failing health he worked feverishly in the years leading up to his death, depicting scene after scene featuring the landscape around him. Works from this period such as Paysage bord de mer are a testament to Renoir's unfailing energy as an artist, and the joy that he clearly felt in this most-idyllic of surroundings.
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