Lot 11
  • 11

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

700,000 - 900,000 USD
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  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • La foret de Marly
  • Signed Renoir (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 25 3/4 by 21 1/2 in.
  • 65.4 by 54.6 cm


Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on June 27, 1896)
Mrs. H. Payne Whitney (acquired from the above on June 20, 1902)
John Hay Whitney, New York (acquired from the above by inheritance in 1944)


Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Exposition Renoir, 1896, no. 21(titled Fôret de Marly)
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux par A. Renoir, 1902, no. 27 (titled Fôret de Marly)

Catalogue Note

Renoir’s depictions of women and children form an important part of his oeuvre, especially in the later decades of his life.  He painted numerous canvases of his subjects in bourgeois settings such as the home, the park, and the garden, all settings that highlighted the leisure pursuits of French middle-class families at the end of the nineteenth century.  The well-dressed children carrying hoops and balls for their promenade with their nursemaid or grouped indoors with their musical instruments and amusements reflect the growing leisure class.  In regard to a seminal portrait of Renoir’s family painted in 1896, Colin Bailey notes that  “… Renoir does more than come to terms with bourgeois values – he positively embraces them, with a sureness of touch, a peerless technique, and a depth of affection and good humor that resonate and give pleasure one hundred years later and will doubtless continue to do so in the centuries to come” (Colin Bailey, Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age, New Haven, 1997, p. 43).

In the present work, however, the woman and children are presented not in a portrait format but instead are viewed from a distance within the forrest of Marly.   Renoir positions the group in the center of the canvas, their figures illuminated by the diffuse light that filters through the trees. The bright impasto of their clothing distinguishes them from the surrounding forest, and the tall trees envelope the group as they walk from the sunlit clearing toward the darker recesses of the forest.  Renoir uses the same supple brushstrokes for both the tall grass of the foreground and the figures’ clothing, thereby uniting the figures with their surroundings.  The soft washes of color emphasize the peaceful beauty of the setting for the leisurely walk.