Auguste Renoir - Landscape Auvers sur Oise 1901

Landscape Auvers sur Oise 1901
Landscape Auvers sur Oise
1901 29x38cm oil/canvas
Private collection

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From Christie's auction house:
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute established from the archives of François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.
The present landscape, Auvers-sur-Oise, depicting the Barbizon and Impressionist hub from the hills above, was executed around 1901 at an important turning point in Renoir's life. The town, situated north of Paris, was significant to the painter for many reasons, not least his Impressionist colleagues' frequent and varied interpretations of its environs. Indeed, Auvers-sur-Oise had been represented by many artists, from Camille Corot and Charles Daubigny to Vincent van Gogh--who painted some 70 canvases of the area--and Paul Cézanne, whose related landscapes were particularly celebrated. Furthermore, it was the home of his doctor, Dr. Paul Gachet, friend and physician to many Impressionists, with whom Van Gogh had stayed near the end of this life and whom he had immortalized in one of the century's most celebrated portraits (De La Faille, no. 753; Private collection). Renoir had been treated by Dr. Gachet for a life-threatening bout of pneumonia in 1882 and was at this time visiting for treatment of his chronic arthritis. Renoir, who by the late 19th century had finally attained financial stability and considerable renown, would find his health decline even as he won increasing recognition. Works from this period accordingly retain the deliberate brushwork of the artist's earlier works while foreshadowing the vivid hues and gentle contrasts of his later oeuvre.
Although Renoir is often considered first and foremost a figure painter, landscape represents a major component of his oeuvre. Like Monet, Renoir tackled nearly every aspect of the genre, from seascapes, snowscapes, and townscapes to scenes of gardens, meadows, forests, and fields. He painted landscapes in the parks and public squares of Paris, in the suburban towns of the Seine valley west of the capital, and during extended periods of travel both in France and abroad. Although landscape rarely featured in Renoir's submissions to the annual, state-sponsored Salon, it played an important role both in his contributions to the Impressionist group exhibitions and in his sales to the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, the first owner of the present work. Renoir viewed landscape painting in part as a means of testing and refining his artistic skills; in a letter to Morisot from 1892, he referred to the genre as "the only way to learn one's craft" (quoted in Renoir Landscapes, 1865-1883, exh. cat., National Gallery, London, 2007, p. 190). As a result, his landscapes tend to be more varied and experimental in color and technique than his figure paintings. John House has written, "Renoir did consistently seek to demonstrate his skills as a landscapist, alongside the figure paintings for which he was best known. Moreover, it was in this genre... that he often felt able to parade the most informal and improvisatory aspects of his art; if landscape was primarily a recreation for him, alongside the serious business of figure painting, it was a pastime that encouraged him to produce some of his most immediate and unconventional works" (ibid., p. 16).
Auvers-sur-Oise, executed en plein air, represents the artist's only recorded depiction of Auvers-sur-Oise, paying homage to its earlier pictorial interpretations, channeling the thunderous sky and expansive fields of Van Gogh's Wheatfields under Thunderclouds, as well as Paul Cézanne's bright early landscape, Vue Panoramique d'Auvers-sur-Oise. With its crisp, verdant foreground and softly rendered sky, the present work exemplifies Renoir's turn-of-the-century oeuvre, marrying the best of both his early and later techniques.
The painting enjoyed a long and unbroken spell with pre-eminent Impressionist dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, the most significant commercial patron of the Parisian avant-garde and the paragon of the modern art dealer, entering his eponymous gallery upon its completion in 1901. It was transferred in October 1908 to the gallery's Fifth Avenue premises in New York, a location where many of America's early collectors of Impressionism had their first experience of the art of Renoir, Monet and their circle. Among these collectors was a passionate advocate of the Renoir's later output, namely Dr. Albert Barnes ("I am convinced that I cannot get too many Renoirs"), whose peerless collection contained 181 examples by the artist and was particularly strong in later landscapes which he cited frequently in his first published article in 1915 How to Judge a Painting. Auvers-sur-Oise stayed in the collection of Paul until his death when it passed to his son Charles, remaining in the Durand-Ruel family for a total of fifty years before being acquired by the Acquavella Galleries in New York following the closure of the family's gallery in the United States.