Finally I manage to write a bit about this exhibition.
Renoir is not a favourite artist of mine, though I appreciate his work his good - his women are very simpering, shallow and sugary and having done some research for an art history assignment at uni, I found he had a very unpleasant attitude towards women, thinking women artists were an abomination and women should be in the kitchen or bedroom! He 'painted with his *****', he said. Some of his works, like the Bar at the Folies Bergere I do like, very much.
Anway, to the landscapes. I really hadn't seen many of his landscapes before so was interested to see them. It was noticeable straight away that, unlike Monet, he didn't look hard at the greens that were there, but used bluey-greens and generalised, choosing his own colour scheme, though in the example shown here the greens aren't so blue - probably because the water is very blue and it simply wouldn't have worked in this case.
The early landscapes were frankly not very good! but as time went by they got better and better - one large, and very free, late landscape really appealed to me and could have been done today. In it he looked at the pattern of a lane winding up a hill from an almost aerial viewpoint, the pattern of the lane and the trees being important in the composition. Unfortunately there is no trace of it online.
At various times he worked alongside Monet and Cezanne and their influence is clear in those works. The exhibition hung paintings of La Grenouillerie by both Monet and Renoir, from the same viewpoint, side by side. The differences in colour choice were huge - Monet had a wide range of greens, Renoir used his bluey-greens for all the foliage. Monet had figures on a jetty silhouetted dramatically against the shining water and an altogether better composition. The Renoir was good - but nowhere near as good as the Monet, which was wonderful.
Later he worked with Cezanne in the south and the change in his palette and paint handling under the influence of Cezanne is very noticeable.
I was really glad I'd seen it and the chronological hanging, with a really good and informative commentary on the headphones you can hire, added to it enormously. It was possible to see his development from shaky beginnings to some very assured and experimental works.
I'm planning to go down to the Watercolour Exhibition later this month, again at the Mall Galleries and this time I hope to see the Manet to Picasso exhibiton that will still be on.
On the Shortlist
5 years ago