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Pont Neuf, Paris

Pierre-Auguste Renoir1872

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

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.

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Details

  • Title: Pont Neuf, Paris
  • Date Created: 1872
  • Physical Dimensions: w93.7 x h75.3 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • artist: Auguste Renoir
  • Theme: France, exterior
  • School: French
  • 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] from whom acquired 1936 by Marshall Field [1893-1956], New York;[2] Dr. and Mrs. [née Barbara Field] Robert Boggs, New York, NY, USA; 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]Lent by Coe to 1933 exhibition in Philadelphia, per an unnumbered checklist published in The Pennsylvania Museum Bulletin XXIX, December 1933, p. 19. Exhibited at Carstairs Gallery, French Impressionists and After, December 1935-January 1936, no. 2. Copy of catalogue in NGA curatorial records 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 1937-1944.

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