The late 19th Century was a particularly prosperous time for the artist, during which he achieved a degree of economic success, which allowed him to paint en plein air with greater frequency. Unlike his contemporary Claude Monet, Renoir did not move out of the centre of Paris, although he frequently joined Monet at Argenteuil where the two artists painted together. As John Rewald explains, ‘Monet had rented a little house close to the water, and whenever Renoir came to stay with him they again put up their easels in front of the same views, studying the same motifs. They both now adopted a comma-like brushstroke, even smaller than they had chosen for their works at La Grenouillère, a brushstroke which permitted them to record every nuance they observed. The surfaces of their canvases were thus covered with a vibrating tissue of small dots and strokes, none of which by themselves defines any form. Yet they contribute to recreating the particular features of the chosen motif and especially the sunny air which bathed it, and marked trees, grass, houses, or water with the specific character of the day, if not the hour' (John Rewald, The History of Impressionism, New York, 1973, pp. 281-284). The present work can very much be likened to Monet’s Matin sur La Seine, le beau temps (1897) housed in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, revealing a shared aesthetic between both Impressionist Masters.
At a distance, we can glean the presence of a small boat gracefully envisioned through variegated brushworks that harmoniously integrate the figures into an atmospheric setting of dazzling and luminous colours. Capturing the myriad effects of light and shade, Au Bord de la rivière (La Seine) draws out patches of violets and pinks that brilliantly convey the fluxes of light filtering through foliage and shimmering resplendently on the magnificent basin of the Seine. Previously belonging to renowned art dealer Ambroise Vollard, whose portrait Renoir painted in 1908, this irresistible works exemplifies the artist’s idyllic energy and revolutionary approach to light and colour, which had earned him esteem as one of the foremost Impressionist painters.
This work also belonged to the distinguished collection of Ruth and Harvey Kaplan whose civic, cultural and business contributions defined a generation. Through society architect Samuel Marx who designed and decorated their first home, the Kaplans grow in their appreciation for art, which would result in a very private but world-class collection. During this time, they worked with legendary dealers including Paul Rosenberg to acquire works such as Claude Monet's Le Bassin de Nymphéas in 1956.
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