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The umbrellas

Pierre-Auguste Renoir • Painting, 1886, 115×180 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1886
Size: 115×180 cm
Artwork in selections: 133 selections

Description of the artwork «The umbrellas»

Once Auguste Renoir came to the workshop and his students inspired by the light-transparent palette of the artist and his colleagues, proudly announced: "We threw tubes of black paint into the Seine!" Renoir confused and began to tell the young rebels about the importance of black color in nature and in painting describing how many different shades it takes on depending on lighting.

"Umbrellas" painting is a true Symphony in black, where the color sounds different in silk and velvet, deep basket, hat brims and on the tops of open umbrellas. Black leather gloves are not the same as black leather children's boots.

In the 20th century, the scene was illuminated with x-rays to unravel the mystery. The mystery is at first glance quite invisible and can catch the eye of someone closely studying art and artistic techniques of the Impressionists in particular. But if you look closely and compare the manner of images of people in the right and the left parts of the picture, even those who are not savvy in terms of Renoir would have questions. The answer is that "Umbrellas" was painted in two sessions with a break for a very powerful and picturesque impression.

In 1881, the artist began to work on the "Umbrellas" - this time he painted with airy and bright figures of the two girls and their mother to right side of the composition. This is a perfect and perfected over the last ten years completely impressionistic snippet: fuzzy outlines of the figures, expressive brushstrokes, shining hats and faces. Having not finished the painting, Renoir went to Italy. When Renoir was asked to tell about this journey, he replied: "Paintings don't speak, you have to see them". "Will it help you, he said to his son Jean,  if I say that courtesans by Titian make you want to caress them?". Anyway, Renoir admired Italy, he was struck by the people who looked to these gods of Olympus – all of these Italian fishermen and maids scrubbing pots. He was excited by the Renaissance artists, but quickly got tired, and the painting from Pompeii in the Museum of Naples has left a lasting impression on the artist.

Renoir returned  to his "Umbrellas" five years later. Keen art critics argue that this can be judged by the outfits of the women to the right and left – those on the left, quite out of fashion to 1886. But the viewers who are not so carefully studied the fashion trends of the XIX century, seem more indicative of the contrast in the way of depicting the scene. The figure of a girl with a basket and men in the background, umbrellas, creating a stunning volume, is a sign of the changing style, which transformed impressionist style image. All his life Renoir had been experimenting and looking for artistic truth and, in spite of a steady dislike to all kinds of theories, experiencing these desperate crises associated with finding the right way of the image: plein air or studio, on a timeline or passing picturesque impression. "Umbrellas" became the most harmonious and talented embodiment of artistic crisis of Renoir and one of the first paintings, that took place in the museum next to the works by the recognized masters.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova