Madrid's Prado to stage Renoir exhibit

18th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Madrid's Prado Museum opens Tuesday an exhibition of 31 oil canvases by French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the first major retrospective of the artist in Spain.

The "Passion for Renoir" show, which runs until February 6, will feature the Clark Art Institute's complete collection of 31 works by the Impressionist master. It is the first time the US museum has loaned all its Renoirs at once.

The paintings are mostly from Renoir's earlier years but the exhibit also includes a handful of works from when his art evolved from light-dappled Impressionism to a more tight, classical manner inspired by old-school masters such as Titian and Rubens.

"The Renoirs we have express the full range of his repertoire," Richard Rand, senior curator of the Clark Art Institute, told a news conference at the Prado on Monday.

The exhibition includes portraits, female figures, landscapes, flower paintings and still lifes by the artist, who visited the Prado in 1892.

Among the works on display are "The Wash-House Boat at Bas-Meudon" and "The Bridge at Chatou", considered to be major works from the early phase of Impressionism.

The exhibition also includes two self-portraits by Renoir, including one completed in 1875 in which he employs vigorous brushstrokes to depict himself elegantly dressed, wearing a stiff collar and necktie, with wide-open eyes.

"It is an extraordinary painting, a surprising work. It is one of the most intense works that he painted," said Javier Baron, the curator of the exhibition and head of the 19th-century painting department at the Prado.

Robert Sterling Clark, the heir to the Singer sewing machine fortune and the founder along with his wife Francine of the Clark Art Institute, bought his first Renoir, "Girl Crocheting", in 1916.

The Prado will loan several nudes to the Clark Art Institute in 2014 as part of the agreement that saw the 31 works by Renoir come to Madrid.

Renoir, along with Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, are credited with revolutionising European painting by transforming the treatment of light and form in art.

He died in 1919, 16 years after he suffered his first attack of rheumatoid arthritis which made painting painful and often impossible.

© 2010 AFP

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