Landscape near Essoyes Pierre-Auguste Renoir Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Painted in 1892, Landscape near Essoyes is a painting from the later period of Renoirs life, a strong vibrant return to his Impressionistic landscape style

Organic and fluid in its nature, this plein air or outdoors painting captures beautifully the movement of the grasses and foliage of the trees.

A multitude of greens are used, from cold blue greens through to acidic yellow greens capturing perfectly the rich variety of foliage of all kinds in the pastoral French countryside.

The undulating flow of the lines with each stroke having a life of its own draws the viewer deeper inwards into the environment where the eye is then drawn to a central figure, at home in the warm and friendly countryside of the Champagne region of France.

The clouds in the ultramarine sky are painted in a similar fluid manner evoking movement and turbulence, drawing the eye to the horizon and holding the composition masterfully in place.

For nearly a decade Renoir had been drawn to experiment with a more classical and formal approach to his painting style. Known by art historians as his Ingres period, Renoir, who was primarily a portrait artist, had been frustrated at the results he would obtain when attempting to achieve the smoothness of skin in his commissioned portrait paintings and the works of Renaissance artists such as Rubens, Raphael and Velazquez had inspired him to attempt a change in the direction of his technique.

Impressionism had always shied away from using blacks believing that shadows always held a certain amount of reflected light and colour. No longer afraid to use black, his painting style became more traditional and he concentrated more on the form and contour of his figures.

After his marriage in 1890 to Aline Charigot, Renoir was becoming more confident and financially stable with expositions in Paris and he found he had more commissions to work on. Aline was from the village of Essoyes originally but poverty had driven her to Paris where she became his model and they later fell in love and married. Initially Renoir was not keen to visit Essoyes due to its long traveling distance from Paris but he soon came to appreciate its people and found the local food and produce much to his liking.

The couple would happily spend their summers with their children in Essoyes and “Landscape near Essoyes” seems to capture a return to Renoirs original looser style of painting with its strong purposeful brush strokes, the use of a brighter cleaner palette and a freedom of expression ideally suited to a subject as beautiful and as idyllic as a rural summer scene of a small valley in the heart of the champagne region of Northern Central France.