Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 - Sunday, 13 May 2012

The Frick Collection, New York
This exhibition of nine iconic Impressionist paintings by Renoir offers the first comprehensive study of the artist's engagement with the full-length format. The exhibition (accompanied by a stunning exhibition catalogue) explores Renoir's portraits and subject pictures of this type from the mid-1870s to mid-1880s. Intended for public display, these vertical grand-scale canvases are among the artist's most daring and are today considered masterpieces of Impressionism.

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More about the exhibition catalogue

Throughout his long working life, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) produced large-format portraits and subject pictures. From the mid-1870s to the mid-1880s - the decade of Impressionism - his vertical, grand-scale canvases were among the artist's most daring and ambitious presentations of contemporary life and fashion. Today they rank among the masterpieces of Impressionism.

This stunning book offers fresh insights into Renoir's complex ambitions as a young artist, when he submitted works to both the avant-garde impressionist exhibitions and the official Salon. While painting in the new impressionist style, Renoir remained committed to the full-length format, which was eschewed by most of his fellow impressionists as too traditional. This format afforded Renoir the opportunity to devote himself to the heroic painting of everyday life, and also to linger on the finest details of his figures' fashionable costumes and accessories. Ten iconic canvases display the rich variety of this artist's painterly technique. They reveal the sheer virtuosity of his brushwork in creating silk, lace, mink, and taffeta for shimmering ball gowns, sumptuous furs, chic Parisian day dresses, and glamorous theatrical costumes.

These paintings capture the faces and fashions of Renoir's Paris. Extensively illustrated, this catalogue draws upon contemporary criticism, literature, and archival documents to explore the motivation behind Renoir's full-length figure paintings as well as their reception. Technical studies of the canvases shed new light on the artist's working methods, while the juxtaposition of these ten full-length portraits will bring the glamour of the Belle Epoque vividly to life.