While his figure paintings are better known, Renoir's landscapes resonate with a vigor and freshness of vision central to the development of impressionism, most apparent here in his transcription of the effects of sunlight. Midday sun suffuses the panorama, its intensity heightening the artist's palette and suppressing incidental detail to clarify the crowded scene.

Edmond Renoir, the artist's younger brother and a novice journalist in 1872, later recounted the inception of this painting in an interview. He told how Renoir secured an owner's permission to occupy an upper floor of a café for one day to depict the view of the famous bridge. Edmond periodically delayed passersby long enough for the artist to record their appearance. Renoir even noted Edmond's presence, walking stick in hand and straw boater on his head, in two locations.

If, as Edmond indicated, _Pont Neuf, Paris_ was painted during a single day, it was preceded by careful preparations, possibly including preliminary delineation of the permanent architectural features. The painting seems more richly nuanced and the subject laden with broader meaning than Edmond's anecdote would suggest. Painted in the wake of the Franco–Prussian War and ensuing civil strife that had devastated France in 1870 and 1871, Renoir's 1872 image shows a representative sampling of French citizenry crossing the oldest bridge in Paris, the intact heart of the recovering country.


  • Title: Pont Neuf, Paris
  • Creator: Auguste Renoir
  • Date Created: 1872
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 75.3 x 93.7 cm (29 5/8 x 36 7/8 in.) framed: 99.4 x 118.7 x 14 cm (39 1/8 x 46 3/4 x 5 1/2 in.)
  • Provenance: The artist; (his sale, Paris, 24 March 1875, no. 42); purchased by (Durand-Ruel, Paris); sold to Nicolas Auguste Hazard [1834-1913], Paris; (Hazard sale, Paris, 1 December 1919, no. 206); purchased by Georges Bernheim, Paris; sold 1921 to Ralph M. Coe, Cleveland; on joint account with (Carroll Carstairs, New York) and (M. Knoedler & Co., New York), by 1935;[1] acquired 1936 by Marshall Field [1893-1956], New York;[2] Dr. and Mrs. [née Barbara Field] Robert Boggs, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Peter Benziger [Mrs. Benziger was previously Mrs. Boggs]. (M. Knoedler and Co., London, New York, and Paris); sold December 1966 to Ailsa Mellon Bruce [1901-1969]; bequest 1970 to NGA. [1] The painting was lent by Coe to a 1933 exhibition in Philadelphia, per an unnumbered checklist published in _The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin_ XXIX (December 1933): 19 and also exhibited at Carstairs Gallery, _French Impressionists and After_, December 1935-January 1936, no. 2. A copy of the catalogue in NGA curatorial files is annotated "Marshall Field." [2] The acquisition by a "New York collector" was announced in _Art News_, 28 November 1936, p. 17. This is presumably Marshall Field, who lent the painting to exhibitions between 1937 and 1944.
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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