RENOIR, Pierre-Auguste
(b, 1841, Limoges, d. 1919, Cagnes-sur-Mer)

Nude (Anna)

Oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm
Pushkin Museum, Moscow

Renoir was especially close to Monet, both personally and in his aesthetics. For him, though, the human figure rather than landscape was always the main focus of attention. For his female models he always sought out girls of ampler proportions in his Montmartre neighbourhood, many of them sempstresses by trade. They liked posing, and had nothing against indulging a lover who could pay,either. Renoir liked them. Without troubling over questions of morality and society, he glorified the beauty and sensuality he saw in them.

Renoir admiration for French 18th-century masters such as Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, whom he copied in his own youthful days as a porcelain painter, lay behind erotic pictures such as Anna. This nude is entirely natural, neither coquettish, nor provocative. Renoir's colourist subtlety tenderly recorded nuanced shades in the flesh of this woman sitting on the edge of a lilac patterned armchair in front of a sketchy background of what seem to be white undergarments against darker plum black. The interplay of lighter and darker areas is as important in lending the composition its baroque dynamism as are the turned and arrested position of the body or the red highlighting on the chair, lips and the corners of the eye.