Renoir’s Large Bathers
As a student in a suburb of Philadelphia, I have had the opportunity to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art on multiple occasions over the last two and a half years. On some visits, I spend my time staring at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers while other times I dedicate my time to admiring the Sculpture Garden; but one thing that stays the same through every visit is my shameless staring, dare I say gawking, at Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Large Bathers. This 1887 oil on canvas is the epitome of late 19th century European art, combining aspects of mid-19th century Impressionism, the frivolity of 18th century Rococo, and Classical nudes. Though I cannot quite place my finger on what draws me to this piece, I do know that the cheerful pastels, sensual lines, and lighthearted subject make Large Bathers one of the top paintings I have had the pleasure of viewing. The paintings of Renoir (1841-1919) are commonly known for their strong lines and bold color palette. He created his own genre of art, mixing his trademark bright and cheerful disposition with daring and distinct lines, showing movement of the focus element. He was passionate about painting people, especially female figures. Renoir’s paintings, throughout his career, often evoke sensuality with clothed and nude figures alike. When Renoir was a young porcelain painter, he was granted permission to observe work at the Louvre; he was exposed to the works of Rococo masters such as Boucher, Fragonard, and Watteau. This inspired him to create a classic form while retaining the luminous palette that was central to Impressionism. In 1881, a trip to Italy further inspired Renoirs work after he studied the paintings of masters of the Renaissance. After that, his work became more acute in style as he attempted to regress to the style of classicism, focusing on drawing and emphasizing figure outlines. As a leader in the 19th century Impressionist movement, it is no surprise that Large Bathers...
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