Still indulging in the memories of his last trip to Italy and under the influence of the works he had seen there, A. Renoir received a handbook on painting written around 1400.
This work and the paintings of J.A.D. Ingres gave the impulse to a new stage in the life of this great Impressionist, which we know today as his “Ingres” period.
Until then it was the freshness and naturalness of his pictures and the representation of an original joy of life through radiant colors, which constituted his work. But now he turned increasingly to classicism and his painting style became harsher and stricter in expression.
Although he remained faithful in the choice of his objects, their execution is clearly distinguishable from the works of the preceding period.
At the very beginning of this new creative period he created one of his most popular works, the “Two Sisters, On the Terrace”.
It shows Jeanne Darlot, a young actress, and her young companion. Darlot wears the traditional blue of the skippers and sits in the midst of the atmospheric landscape of Chatou, a suburb of Paris, where the artist spent much of spring 1881.
Her absent gaze wanders into the distance, past the painter and also carefree of the child at her side, who seems to have stumbled into the picture by chance.
Although the picture was strictly composed, it seems to us that it was born of the moment. Almost as if on a random photograph, one sees a little girl and her girlfriend in a moment of quiet contentment and tranquillity.
And yet it is blown by a cool austerity in which Renoir’s new mastery and his preoccupation with tradition can be seen.
Renoir was aware of the danger that the background would become too dominant and swallow the young women, as if they would lose themselves in the vastness of the landscape.
But through a clever idea he gives the picture contour and an inner firmness. Because the young woman is sitting in front of a railing and thus we do not find ourselves, even if without really noticing it, in the open space, but nature is domesticated and is only the frame of the action, no longer its centre.
A wonderful painting that expresses exactly what connoisseurs love about Renoir and what a stranger once summed up with the words: “He loves everything in life that is cheerful, brilliant and comforting”.
Click here for the painting: Two Sisters, On the Terrace