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A Nymph by a Stream
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
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This is one of the first nudes that Renoir painted. He took a traditional artistic approach, depicting the woman in a natural setting, reclining by a stream as though she were a naiad (water nymph) from the world of Greek mythology. She appears to be lying on a grassy, flower-flecked bank beside the stream, leaning with her elbow in the brook and allowing the water to flow between her fingers, but Renoir’s brushstrokes are so fluid that we can’t be entirely sure where the bank ends and the water begins.

This painting is also – in some senses – a portrait. Rather than idealising the nymph’s features in the way that more academic contemporary painters, such as Ingres, would have done, Renoir has made her recognisable. She is Lise Tréhot, the artist’s lover and the female model for almost all of his work during the early stages of his career.

Key facts
Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Artist dates 1841 - 1919
Full title A Nymph by a Stream
Date made 1869-70
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 66.7 x 122.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1951
Inventory number NG5982
Location in Gallery Not on display
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