Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on September 6, 1890)
M. Rigault, Paris (acquired from the above on July 6, 1951)
Pierre Durand-Ruel, Paris
Mrs. Selznick, Paris
Sam Salz, New York (acquired from the above in 1965)
Colonel and Mrs. Edgard W. Garbisch, New York
Sam Salz, New York
Private Collection, Europe (acquired from the above on March 30, 1970 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 13, 1997, lot 14)
Richard Green Fine Art, London
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Russia, Société d'Encouragement des Arts en Russie, 1898-99
Paris, Durand-Ruel, Exposition de natures mortes par Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, 1908, no. 24
Berlin, Cassirer, VI Ausstellung, 1912
Paris, Manzi-Joyant, Exposition d'Art Moderne, 1912, no. 172
Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Tableaux, pastels, dessins par Renoir, 1920, no. 29
Paris, Bernheim-Jeune, 50 Renoir choisis parmi les nus, les fleurs, les enfants, 1927, no. 21
Paris, Durand-Ruel, Quelques oeuvres importantes de Manet à Van Gogh, 1932, no. 43
Rotterdam, Boymans Museum, Four Centuries of French Still Life, 1954, no. 101
Paris, Durand-Ruel Gallery, Hommage à Renoir, 1958, no. 23
New York, Wildenstein, Renoir, 1969, no. 50, illustrated
Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir, 1929, no. 184, illustrated p. 196 (as dating from 1885)
John House, et al., Renoir (exhibition catalogue); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Hayward Gallery, London; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1985-86, discussed in catalogue note about no. 83, p. 255
This picture of a bouquet of flowers spilling from their vase and surrounded by succulent peaches dates from the prime of Renoir's career in the late 1880s. Created with careful attention to light and shadow, the composition exemplifies the Impressionist techniques that Renoir and his colleague, Claude Monet, introduced at Impressionist group exhibitions in Paris. Fleurs et fruits, completed when Renoir’s career had reached its ascendancy, is a wonderful demonstration of his key style applied to a floral motif.
What is particularly remarkable in this picture is the artist’s ability to replicate the pure luxuriance of a fruit and floral arrangement. As was the case for many of the Impressionist painters, Renoir did not need to rely on the trompe l’oeil techniques that had been utilized by artists for centuries (see fig. 1) in order to render this bouquet so convincingly. Instead, he drew upon his own creative ingenuity and his initial impressions of the image, rendering it with extraordinary freshness. Few artists of his generation would approach this subject with the richness and sensitivity that is demonstrated in this picture and in others that he completed in the in the late 1880s.
Renoir painted the present work, and a related painting in which he used the same vase for the flowers (see fig. 2), around 1889. Durand-Ruel had purchased both of them from Renoir in September 1890. In his discussion of the these two works, John House offers the following thoughts and analysis: "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, like the present picture[s], but often with more casual informal studies."
House goes on to describe the related picture, which differs only in that the peaches of the present work have been replaced by grapes. Other elements of the composition are nearly identical in both paintings: "Form and colour alike are carefully arranged here: above the nuanced light colours of the tablecloth, interwoven contrasts of red and green revolve around the blue and orange patterned vase. The forms are clear, mainly defined by contrast with what lies beyond them. The drawing, though, is not precise; the brushwork seeks out the internal rhythms of the various elements, setting their cursive patterns against the unobtrusively brushed verticals of the background. The second peach from the left is a text book example of modelling by colour gradation -- from the yellow on its lit side, through orange and various reds to duller mauves and beiges and deeper purples; by constrats, the shinier surfaces of the grapes are modelled by off-white highlights. Renoir was to use the same vase again in two versions of his Young girls at the piano (see fig. 3)" John House, et al., Renoir (exhibition catalogue); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Hayward Gallery, London; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 1985-86, p. 255).
It is not surprising that a floral still-life, especially one as lush and abundant as the present work, would have appealed to Renoir. Both he and Monet had painted several floral arrangements in the early 1880s (see fig. 4), and the present work is a continuation of this theme that proved to be so successful for both artists in the first half of the decade. As was noted at the time of a retrospective exhibition in 1988, "For an artist enamoured with color, flowers provide a perfect subject -- infinitely varied, malleable to any arrangement. Several of Renoir's most beautiful paintings... are flower pieces. Renoir painted many pictures of flowers in addition to the more numerous figures and landscapes. Flowers appear frequently in his paintings as hat decorations or as part of the landscape behind figures even when they are not the main motif. Renoir himself said that when painting flowers he was able to paint more freely and boldly, without the mental effort he made with a model before him. Also, he found the painting of flowers to be helpful in painting human figures" (Renoir Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), Nagoya City Art Museum, 1988, p. 247).
Fig. 1, Ambrosius Bosschaert L'Ancien, Vase de fleurs, 1609, oil on panel, Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum
Fig. 2, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Fleurs et fruits, 1889, oil on canvas, Private Collection
Fig. 3, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jeunes filles au piano, 1892, oil on canvas, Private Collection
Fig. 4, Claude Monet, Chrysanthèmes, 1882, oil on canvas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
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