When Renoir began painting with other Impressionist artists, he favored quick, loose brushstrokes, illustrating the effects of plein-air painting and natural light. Over the course of his career, Renoir began to stray from his emphasis of color over line after seeing the precision of forms and subtle coloration in the works of the Renaissance masters and the palette of the French Rococo artists. Émile Verhaeren, a contemporary poet and art critic of Renoir, highlighted the quality of Renoir's stylistic details in the present work, writing "Here...is an utterly new vision, a quite unexpected interpretation of reality to solicit our imagination. Nothing is fresher, more alive and pulsating with blood and sexuality, than these bodies and faces as he portrays them. Where have they come from, those light and vibrating tones that caress arms, necks, and shoulders, and give a sensation of soft flesh and porousness? The backgrounds are suffusions of air and light; they are vague because they must not distract us" (quoted in Gerd Muesham, ed., French Painters and Paintings from the Fourteenth Century to Post-Impressionism: A Library of Art Criticism, New York, 1970, pp. 511-12).
John House writes the following on Renoir's fascination with the subject of the female nude in outdoor settings: "On his travels Renoir painted many landscapes and informal outdoor subjects, but his more serious efforts were reserved for themes which tread the borderline between everyday life and idyll-themes with obvious echoes of eighteenth century art. He painted a long series of nudes, mainly young girls in outdoor settings, whom in a letter he called his 'nymphs.' Mainly single figures at first, he brought them together in groups around 1897 in several pictures of girls playing which translate the subject of the 1887 Bathers into a fluent informality very reminiscent of Fragonard's Bathers (see fig. 1) (John House in Renoir (exhibition catalogue), The Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, pp. 250-51).
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