Lot 53
  • 53

PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR | La Promenade au bord de la mer (Le Bois de la Chaise Noirmoutier)

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
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  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • La Promenade au bord de la mer (Le Bois de la Chaise Noirmoutier)
  • Signed Renoir. (lower left) 
  • Oil on canvas
  • 26 by 32 in.
  • 66.2 by 81.4 cm
  • Painted circa 1892.


Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on November 9, 1892)

Durand-Ruel, New York (transferred from the above in 1897)

Ralph M. Coe, Cleveland (acquired from the above on January 20, 1920)

Knoedler & Co., New York (acquired from the above on December 30, 1938)

Sibyl Young Clark, Ohio (acquired from the above on November 21, 1939)

Joe & Emily Lowe, New York 

Milena Jurzykowski, New York (acquired from the estate of the above in 1970)

A bequest from the above in 1971


New York, Gallery Durand-Ruel, Paintings by Renoir, 1912, no. 12

New York, Gallery Durand-Ruel, Paintings by Renoir, 1917, no. 11

New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir: A Special Exhibition of his Paintings, 1937, no. 49, illustrated in the catalogue (dated 1890)


Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir, Leipzig, 1929, no. 218, illustrated p. 242 (dated 1890)

Michel Drucker, Renoir, Paris, 1944, no. 105, illustrated pl. 105

Elda Fezzi, L'Opera complete di Renoir nel period impressionista, 1869-1883, 1972, no. 651, illustrated p. 118

Elda Fezzi, Tout l’oeuvre peint de Renoir, période impressionniste 1869-1883, Paris, 1985, no. 614, illustrated p. 111 (dated circa 1890)

Guy-Patrice & Michel Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné of paintings, pastels, drawings and watercolors, vol. II, Paris, 2007, no. 861, illustrated p. 106

Catalogue Note

In 1892, Renoir went on an extended tour of northwestern France, spending the late summer in the resort town of Pornic. Just off the coast, where the artist spent many a day painting, is the fashionable island of Noirmoutier where the present composition is set. Known as the “Island of Mimosas,” Noirmoutier captured Renoir’s attention with its prismatic vegetation, crystalline seas and parade of seasonal tourists. The present work finds two women and two young children at the center of the Bois de la Chaise, the woodsy grove from which the painting takes its name. Tall trunks and lithe branches wend their way through the composition, framing the figures at center. Glistening in the distance is a brilliant splash of cerulean, locating the arboreal outcropping by the sea. Dappled light at the center of the scene, paired with a disciplined balance of color, draws the eye toward the meadow where the holiday-goers are haloed by ocean waters. Striking a harmonious balance between his subjects, Renoir paints his figures as inherently a part of their verdant surroundings. Renoir’s masterful use of wet-on-wet painting imbues a softness to the middle ground and background, causing the illuminated pasture and water to recede softly into the distance. In contrast, a more precise handling of paint at the fore, seen most evidently in the flowering tree tops, helps create a vast sense of depth and perspective within this landscape.

Having surfaced from a period of artistic “crisis” in the 1880s, born out of exhaustive travel to Italy, Algeria and throughout the Mediterranean and a fevered search for solidity in his figuration, Renoir returned to the soft renderings of his earlier Impressionistic days (see fig. 2). However, these later landscapes reflect a more decorative idealization of his pastoral subjects as compared to his early works, which placed primacy on the fleeting effects of light, as influenced and prioritized by Monet.

While often considered among the preeminent Impressionists, Renoir was at heart a student of the École des Beaux-Arts, with the deep hierarchies of the Academy fully entrenched in his psyche. As such, Renoir’s landscapes—historically considered a lesser discipline—were always in the greater service of the more esteemed genre of figure painting. Even during the years which witnessed an outpouring of landscapes and a concerted effort by the artist to seek out the most picturesque environments, Renoir yearned to paint figures (having claimed it difficult to find adequate models during his travels). Despite such protestations, landscapes from the late 1880s and early 1890s radiate with luminous color, proving perhaps how intoxicating the settings were for even a figure painter. Such popular locales as Noirmoutier also offered Renoir the abundant opportunity to paint society types under resplendent natural light—a luxury not afforded by studio portraiture (see fig. 3). The softly rendered and carefully balanced landscapes from this period in the early 1890s anticipates Renoir’s ensuing progression toward the swirling compositions and Rubensian bathers which marked the master’s final years.

This work will be included in the forthcoming Renoir Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.