The blooms are voluptuous and enticing, offering a vivid example of the flaming tones that Renoir embraced with such enthusiasm at the beginning of the 1900s. Showing a broad range of red and pink tones, the present work evokes the frailty of the flowers while maintaining a certain immediacy of execution. Renoir was very much aware of the classical tradition of flower painting and works such as Gerbe d'anémones constituted a sort of symbolic transposition of the female body for the artist. The sensuous, fleshy petals of the flowers became vehicles for the representation of the female body, a subject that occupied him consistently throughout the 1900s. Renoir confessed to the art dealer Ambroise Vollard that he saw flowers as ‘research of flesh tones for a nude’ (M. Lucy & J. House, Renoir in the Barnes Foundation, New Haven & London, 2012, p. 263). Even more explicitly, he once compared anemones with the female sex (reported in de Butler, Renoir: Écrits, Entretiens et Lettres sur l’Art, Paris, 2002, p. 207).
Paintings such as Gerbe d'anémones encouraged Renoir to challenge his own technique, pushing him to explore new depths of colour. He once stated: 'Painting flowers rests the brain, I do not bring the same tension to them as I do when I am face to face with a model. When I paint flowers, I place colours and experiment with values boldly, without worrying about wasting a canvas' (quoted in M. Lucy & J. House, Ibid., p. 263).
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