The wide range of Renoir’s paintings during the last half of the 1870s attests to the conflicted searching Renoir underwent as an artist. During this period, he made monumental works such as Bal du Moulin de la Galette (Ball at the Moulin de la Galette), which depicts men and women making merry while dressed in the latest fashions. At the same time, however, he also produced less polished works such as Etude: Torse de femme au soleil (Study: Torso of a Woman in the Sun), which shows the characteristically vivid touch of the impressionists. With its controlled use of color and balanced symmetry, Jeune femme en bleu is well enough crafted that it would have certainly lived up to Renoir’s expectations for his portraits. The woman’s almost transparent skin reveals an exquisitely skillful control of color, and the white of her collar gives the painting a pleasant highlight. Her black hair and the ribbon on her chest accent her noble features all the more. Renoir and his friends used their own money to host an exhibition of impressionist works, but the exhibition was criticized harshly, making it all the more difficult for the impressionists to sell their paintings. Because Renoir was struggling with poverty, he started painting portraits commissioned by socialites as an easy way to put bread on the table. Ironically, these orders gradually helped build his reputation as an artist, but putting on a proud appearance and subordinating himself to the demands of others for the sake of financial comfort also mean sacrificing his own artistic initiative. After 1880, these concerns would begin casting a shadow over his artistic production.