Description: Each summer between 1879 and 1882 Pierre-Auguste Renoir traveled to Wargemont near Dieppe on the Normandy coast to visit his friend and patron Paul Bérard. Renoir and Bérard, a banker and French diplomat, had met in 1878, when the artist was still struggling to find collectors for his Impressionist canvases. Renoir and Bérard quickly formed a bond, leading to numerous commissioned portraits of the financier’s children and affording the artist a comfortable place to go for the summer well removed from the oppressive heat of Paris.
Renoir produced more than portraits during his summers on the Normandy shore. He also completed a series of seascapes that represent some of the more audacious and experimental work of his career. During his last summer at Wargemont in 1882 he painted The Wave, a view of the English Channel, churning with unusual fury as the sky goes dark from a storm and distant sailboats make for safe harbor. Renoir would appear to be literally standing in the surf as he renders the immediacy and force of a wave crashing onto the shoreline. He captures its fleeting nature with the deft use of a palette knife, building up layers of buttery impasto that swirl into foam, sand, and mist.
Provenance: Museum purchase from Cornelia Ritchie and Ritchie Trust No. 4 provided through a gift from the Robinson Family Fund