A Girl with a Watering Can

Pierre-Auguste Renoir1876

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

In 1876, Renoir began to paint anecdotal depictions of women and children, subjects in which he excelled. A Girl with a Watering Can, typical of these works, displays a mature impressionist style attuned to the specific requirements of figure painting. Renoir's colors reflect the freshness and radiance of the impressionist palette, while his handling is more controlled and regular than in his landscapes, with even brushstrokes applied in delicate touches, especially in the girl’s face. Brilliant prismatic hues envelop the child in an atmosphere of warm light and charmingly convey her innocent appeal.

Specific identifications have been proposed for the girl, but none is convincing. More likely, Renoir depicted a neighborhood child whose pretty features pleased him. A girl with similar curly blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, plump pink cheeks, and smiling red lips appears, dressed the same way in other paintings by Renoir, suggesting she was a favorite figure in the artist’s repertory. A Girl with a Watering Can is a showcase of the grace and charm of the artist's work.

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  • Title: A Girl with a Watering Can
  • Date Created: 1876
  • Physical Dimensions: w730 x h1000 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Chester Dale Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • artist: Auguste Renoir
  • Theme: female, girl
  • School: French
  • Provenance: Possibly commissioned c. 1876 for the Sellière Collection, Paris; by inheritance to Comte Batthiany by 1898; Alexandre Rosenberg, Paris. Possibly Paul Bérard [1830-1905], Paris. [1] Alexandre Berthier [1883-1918], 4th Prince de Wagram; sold probably by his heirs though (Canadeesche Hypothek Bank) through (Étienne Bignou, Paris) to (Alex Reid & Lefèvre, London); on joint account with (M. Knoedler & Co., London, New York and Paris) and (Marcel Kapferer); sold 1931 through (Galerie Étienne Bignou, Paris) to Chester Dale [1882-1962], New York; [2]bequest 1963 to NGA.[1]According to an annotated photograph in the albums of the Bignou Gallery now at the documentation center of the Musée d'Orsay (copy NGA curatorial files). Bérard was a banker and patron of Renoir. This painting is not included in his estate sale held at Galerie Georges Petit in 1905.[2] Reid & Lefèvre Paintings Sold, sheet no. 204, #14/29 B1405 gives acquisition source and partial share information (Lefèvre archives, Hyman Kreitman Research Centre, Tate Britain, TGA 2002/11, Box 283).


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