This painting depicts a nude blonde woman standing thigh deep in a pool. The setting is an outdoor one, and this idyllic rustic setting is very common in Renoir's paintings of bathers.
Like many of Renoir's other bathers, too, the woman in the painting Bather with Long Hair holds a towel which partially covers her body. It is arguable that Renoir included towels and cloths like this in his paintings of bathers as a nod to the drapery that is often involved in the classical sculptures that he so admired in Italy.
Vivid colours and a springlike feel in the air fill Bather with Long Hair with a sense of joyfulness and promise. One of the things that Renoir was most famous for was being able to make the skin of his sitters look luminous and he definitely achieves his trademark effect with the skin of the eponymous bather in Bather with Long Hair.
Renoir was able to achieve this effect in his portraits with his careful use of highlights on the skin, and this is particularly visible on the bather's thighs and on her face. Light was one of Renoir's obsessions throughout his career, and this is certainly in evidence in Bather with Long Hair.
The light plays not just on the bather's skin to illuminate it, but also on the water that she is bathing in. There is also the sense of a story to this painting. The bather in Bather with Long Hair seems to be looking at something that is just beyond the reach of a canvas, perhaps another human being or perhaps a woodland animal that she has seen.
Whatever it is that has animated her, the expression on her face encapsulates the perfect marriage of liveliness and repose that characterises this art work as a whole.
Born in 1841, Renoir lived until 1919 and in the years leading up to his death he became increasingly interested in depicting nudes bathing in his oil paintings. This was partly due to an inspirational trip to Italy that he made at the start of the 1880s.
During this trip he studied the many classical sculptures that are to be found in Italy's world famous galleries, and this gave him a renewed interest in the nude human form. There he would have come across famous paintings by the likes of Titian, Giorgione, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Masaccio.
Though he was known for his clothed portraits of bourgeois figures and family groups, Renoir began to develop an interest in the nude, then, and he attempted to replicate the curves and stances that he had seen in the classical sculptural nudes during his Italian voyage.
Bather with Long Hair is a prime example of a work of art by Renoir that demonstrates this interest and adheres to these principles.