Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Les fruits 5 5/8 x 8 3/8 in (14 x 21 cm)

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Lot 7
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Les fruits 5 5/8 x 8 3/8 in (14 x 21 cm)


Impressionist & Modern Art

17 May 2017, 17:00 EDT

New York

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Les fruits
signed 'Renoir' (upper right)
oil on canvas
5 5/8 x 8 3/8 in (14 x 21 cm)


  • Provenance
    Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on 15 August 1916; inv. no. 10880).
    Galerie Georges Bernheim, Paris (acquired from the above on 24 October 1916).
    Anon. sale, Paris, 7 November 1946, lot 90.
    Private collection, Paris, New York and Palm Beach, Florida.
    James Goodman Gallery, New York (acquired from the above).
    Acquired by Sidney Frank from the above in 2003.

    This work will be included in the catalogue critique being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute from the François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein archives.

    This work will be included in the second supplement to the Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles de Renoir being prepared by Guy-Patrice and Floriane Dauberville and published by Bernheim-Jeune.

    Renoir painted few still lifes in the early part of his career, perhaps in reaction to the repetitive decorative work he had endured as an apprentice in a porcelain factory. It is only from the 1880s onward that he really allowed himself to address the genre, and from the turn of the century that his more comfortable means meant that he could explore the possibilities at leisure. Nevertheless he was certain of the important role that this most traditional of modes played in an artist's training. His student Julie Manet, niece of the painter, reported in 1898: 'Monsieur Renoir said that one must do still lifes in order to learn to paint quickly. He has just done some superb ones' (R. de Boland Roberts and J. Roberts, Growing up with the Impressionists: The Diary of Julie Manet, London, 1987, p. 146).

    Renoir regarded the genre as a means of investigating the play of light and color on various objects and surfaces, of exploring composition and method – a belief that was in accord with his view of the Impressionist movement as a whole: 'For Renoir, the decisive criterion of Impressionist aesthetics in its highest form was that it liberated the artist from theme. 'I can paint flowers, and I need only call them 'flowers'; they do not need a story' (G. Adriani, Renoir, Cologne, 1996, p. 20). He told his biographer Albert André, that it was in his small scale still-lifes such as the present work that 'he put the whole of himself, that he took every risk' (A. André, Renoir, 1928, p. 49).

    Still lifes were also a very good commercial proposition, as Professor John House noted: 'Still lifes were one of the Impressionists' most readily saleable commodities. Durand-Ruel bought many still lifes from both Renoir and Monet when he began to purchase their work regularly in the early 1880s; from the late 1880s onwards still life became a regular part of Renoir's stock-in-trade, sometimes in the form of elaborated, fully worked compositions, ... but often with more casual informal studies' (J. House, in Renoir, exhib. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, and elsewhere, 1985, p. 255).

    Renoir was always immensely aware of the grand tradition of French painting. Watteau and Fragonard showed him the way for landscapes and figures, while the grace and delicacy of Chardin appears evident in the still lifes. Charles Sterling addressed this connection: 'Nurtured on the traditions of eighteenth-century French painting, Renoir ... carried on the serene simplicity of Chardin. Pale shadows, light as a breath of air, faintly ripple across the perishable jewel of a ripe fruit. Renoir reconciles extreme discretion with extreme richness, and his full-bodied density is made up, it would seem, of colored air. This is a lyrical idiom hitherto unknown in still life, even in those of Chardin. Between these objects and us there floats a luminous haze through which we distinguish them, tenderly united in a subdued shimmer of light (C. Sterling, Still Life in Painting from Antiquity to the Present Time, Paris, 1959, p. 100). Renoir himself was less willing to acknowledge the debt, when pressed by Ambroise Vollard: 'Chardin makes me sick. He has done some pretty still lifes, perhaps...' (A. Vollard (trans. H.L. van Doren and R.T. Weaver), Renoir, An intimate portrait, New York, 1925, p. 7).
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Les fruits 5 5/8 x 8 3/8 in (14 x 21 cm)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Les fruits 5 5/8 x 8 3/8 in (14 x 21 cm)
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