The Seine at Chatou 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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The Seine At Chatou was painted by Pierre-Augste Renoir in 1881. It was produced using oil paints on canvas and using Renoir’s familiar Impressionist style

A beautiful blossom blooms in the foreground and the River Seine meanders away behind it into the distance. The river splits the painting in half horizontally and little sailboats bob about on the water.

Standing on the bank, there is a figure, with what looks like a bouquet of recently gathered wild flowers in their arms. Lush foliage, vibrant colours and delicate brushstrokes make the whole scene come alive and gives the impression of a warm spring day.

Chatou, where this painting is set, is a picturesque, little Parisian suburb, which is roughly 9 miles away from the centre of the city.

The neighbouring towns and riverbanks were a popular destination for some of the great French Impressionist artists, like Pierre-August Renoir and Claude Monet.

In fact, there is even an island on this stretch of the river called Île des Impressionnistes (Island of the Impressionists). The stunning surrounding countryside and the close proximity to the country’s capital, meant that it was the perfect place for them to find artistic inspiration.

The Maison Fournaise, opened by Alphonse Fournaise in the 1850s, was a favourite spot of Renoir's in Chatou and he would have probably visited there while he was painting The Seine At Chatou.

It was a beautiful restaurant, hotel and boat hire business on the banks of the River Seine and a number of Renoir’s other artworks were painted there. For example, Luncheon Of The Boating Party and The Rowers’ Lunch and other pieces of his artwork often featured members of the Fournaise family.

Due to improved transport links and artistic materials becoming more portable towards the mid 19th century, Renoir and fellow artists like Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro started to experiment more with the Plein Air Movement.

Painting ‘plein air’ literally just means painting outdoors, rather than in a studio, but these artists developed their own techniques, which have now become synonymous with Plein Air.

The way Renoir painted the light coming off the objects in the picture, rather than painting the objects themselves in The Seine At Chatou is a great example of one of these techniques that were developed and perfected by these artists at this period.

Although Renoir is most famous for his female portraits, throughout his artistic career he painted a number of very striking paintings where it was often the surrounding landscape, not the human form, that became the main focus of the piece. In The Seine At Chatou, the figure is hardly noticeable at first glance and it is definitely the beautiful landscape that dominates the painting. The Seine At Chatou is currently on view at The Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston, alongside other Impressionist masterpieces.