Woman Leaning on Her Elbows (Femme accoudée) (ca. 1875-1885) by Pierre-Auguste RenoirThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The portrait would seem unfinished, albeit signed: many parts of the canvas are nearly untouched! Can you see that?
It’s probably the result of a brief moment of an en-plein-air painting day, while the painter tried to set an impression of the modern life, with quick strokes.
Impressionists sought a direct contact with the reality they lived in, painting outside their studios, refusing the historic or mythological subjects praised by contemporary critics.
The incomplete work gives us a glimpse of how Renoir attempted to capture this modern and fleeting world: the paint is applied freely, without any preparatory drawing, so to obtain throbbing figures with vaporous outlines.
A method that aims to replicate the instant in which the colors, transported by light, strike the eyes, impressing an iridescent image on the retina, rich in shades and reflections.
With thick strokes and the bright reds of the lips and the cheeks, the girl’s face becomes full of life… full of the joy of living. A feeling that will always be Renoir’s signature, of all his works, of all his faces.
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