Painted in 1895, Paysage
embodies a hybridization of Renoir’s plein-air
painting with his prototypical renderings of Cagnes and the area near the Mediterranean coast. At this point in his life, Renoir was spending increasing amounts of time in the South of France, before ultimately moving there permanently two years later. The end of the nineteenth century was a particularly prosperous time for the artist. His recognition amongst the stable of Impressionist painters and the continued support of dealer Durand-Ruel offered Renoir financial security, enabling him to explore new areas of creative interest. Renoir sought to move beyond portraiture and began to explore painting en plein air
, finding the freshness of natural light preferable to that of his studio. Paysage
is a quintessential example of Renoir’s late scenes of southern French towns and the surrounding countryside, which are characterized by vibrant colors and swift brushstrokes that express both a visceral technique and idyllic environment. The present work in particular illustrates Renoir’s avant-garde style—the quick slashes in his brushstroke—which are informal yet carefully composed of shades of green and hints of yellow.
Renoir inspired many of his contemporaries; it was his exuberance that caught the attention of artists like Vincent van Gogh, who admired so much of Renoir’s technique. Writing to his brother Théo in 1885, Vincent had said that Renoir reminded him that “there is life in every pencil stroke," which underscores a stimulating dialogue regarding technique and composition between the two painters (quoted in Keith Wheldon, Renoir and His Art, New York, 1975, p. 120). Renoir was intent on depicting nature in a dream-like setting while focusing on the relationship between a place and its surrounding environment. He painted specifically with the “solidity, fullness, richness, reality, dignity, depth and majesty, all of which are embodied in compositions characterized by dynamic relations between solid volumes of color and units of colorful space” (Albert C. Barnes, The Art of Renoir, Philadelphia, 1935, p. 115).