RENOIR, Woman Seen from the Back

Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Woman Seen from the Back, ca. 1875-1879, oil on canvas, 27.1 x 22.1 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919)
Woman Seen from the Back
ca. 1875-1879
oil on canvas
27.1 x 22.1 cm
© MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
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"The simplest subjects are eternal. The naked woman rises either from the sea or from her bed; she is called Venus or Nini—there is no better way of portraying it." These were the words of Renoir, who shared with Degas a keen interest in female nudes. But while Degas showed himself to be biting and sometimes cruel in his vision of a woman's body, Renoir encircled it with a halo of grace and beauty that contributed to creating a general female type in his painting of figures.
 
Woman Seen from the Back is part of a well-identified genre of production. According to painter Albert André, Renoir was wont to leaving oil sketches in the corners of his paintings: "He did not want to consider these little sketches as anything more and became enraged when, after having cut them out and remounted the canvas, people would bring them to him to sign and finish the edges so they could be transformed into paintings." Concluding that Renoir's best work was found in these small paintings.
 
In Woman Seen from the Back, Renoir engages in an attentive study of light on the skin and hair of his model. The very smooth application of paint next to the multi-coloured halos recalls the work he pursued between 1875 and 1879. The greenish and yellowish tones streaked with purplish blue evoke the criticism he received with regard to his Torso, Sunlight Effect (Paris, Musée d’Orsay): "Someone needs to kindly explain to Mr. Renoir that a woman's bust is not a mass of decomposing flesh full of green and violet spots, which indicate the state of complete putrefaction of a cadaver."
 
In the artwork from the Senn collection, Renoir makes use of his skills as a colourist. The use of drawing, practically inexistent, intervenes to outline the shape of a breast or strengthen the contour of a shoulder or the nape of the neck. The back of the young woman stands out against the hastily brushed background. It is worked with such delicate strokes one might think it was done in pastel.

Artworks in context : Impressionism (24)

Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), Washerwomen, ca. 1870-1872, oil on canvas, 15 x 21 cm. © Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Didier Plowy
Alfred SISLEY (1839-1899), The Loing at Saint-Mammès, 1885, oil on canvas, 55 x 73.2 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Portrait of Nini Lopez, 1876, oil on canvas, 54 x 39 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), The Pilots' Jetty at Le Havre, 1903, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 65 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), Waterlilies, 1904, oil on canvas, 89 x 92 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), Winter Sun,Lavacourt, 1879-1880, oil on canvas, 55 x 81 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Édouard MANET (1832-1883), Boats at Sea, Sunset, ca. 1868, oil on canvas, 43 x 94 cmŒuvre récupérée à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. déposée en 1961 par l'Etat ; en attente de sa restitution à ses légitimes propriétaires. MNR 873. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Quay at Honfleur, 1866, oil on canvas, 32.5 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), Snowy Landscape at Crozant, vers 1895, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), London Parliament, 1903, oil on canvas, 81 x 92 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, ca. 1884-1886 / 1890 / 1900, pastel on wove paper, 40.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), The Excursionist, ca. 1888, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 50 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Statue of Henri IV and Hôtel de la Monnaie, Morning, Sun, 1901, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Seine at Samois, ca. 1898, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Creuse at Crozant, ca. 1893, oil on canvas, 60 x 73.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Paris, Pont Marie and the Quai des Célestins, 1874, oil on wood, 23.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Claude MONET (1840-1926), The Seine at Vétheuil, 1878, oil on canvas, 50. 5  x 61.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Quai du Pothuis, Banks of the Oise, 1882, oil on canvas, 46.3 x 55.3 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Sunrise at Éragny, 1894, oil on canvas, 38.3 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Crossroads at L'Hermitage, Pointoise, 1876, oil on canvas, 38.5 x 46.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Bay of Salerno or Southern Landscape, 1881, oil on canvas, 46 x 55.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Woman Seen from the Back, ca. 1875-1879, oil on canvas, 27.1 x 22.1 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Pines at Cagnes, ca. 1919, oil on canvas, marouflage on cardboard, 31.5 x 38.7 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Jules CHÉRET (1836-1932), Woman in Black with Muff, ca. 1885, oil on canvas, 33 x 25 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn