Renoir in Britain
8 February – 20 April 2014
The story of how some of Renoir’s most significant works found their way into public museums and galleries in Britain.
France notwithstanding, Britain holds one of the most important collections of Renoir works in the world. In fact, his paintings have been coveted by UK art collectors ever since they were first shown at an exhibition in London in 1874.
Drawing from the holdings of the National Gallery, Tate and the V&A, as well as venues spanning the reaches of England and Wales, the display has taken five years to co ordinate and includes many of the artist’s most significant works held in the UK.
Among them is ‘A Bather’, an example of one of the nude paintings with which Renoir is often associated. This particular piece forms part of a series the artist produced following his trip to Italy, where he was inspired by classical painters such as Titian and Raphael.
Meanwhile, photographs of London exhibitions in the 1880s and letters between Renoir and his art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, are used to demonstrate how these key works came to be part of British collections.
The exhibition is revealing of the nation’s adoration of Renoir, but also stands alone as a comprehensive insight into his career, with every decade of his practice is represented, from the late 1860s to 1919. Further, the inclusion of portraits, nudes, landscapes and still lifes are evident of the full scope of his artistic career.
His portrait of renowned oboist and composer Willhelm Muhlfeld, reflects a tradition among impressionist painters to choose their intellectual contemporaries for sitters. The artist can also be seen to fully realise his skill as a sensitive portraitist in this piece.