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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Umbrellas

Key facts
Full title The Umbrellas
Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Artist dates 1841 - 1919
Date made about 1881-6
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 180.3 × 114.9 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3268
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Umbrellas
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

This painting places us in a busy Parisian street close to six principal figures who fill the foreground. A milling crowd behind them almost completely blocks out the boulevard beyond. The top quarter of the picture is mostly filled by a canopy of at least a dozen umbrellas.

Painted in two stages, with a gap of around four years between each stage, it shows the change in Renoir’s art during the 1880s, when he was beginning to move away from Impressionism and looking instead to classical art. The group on the right, which includes a mother and her two daughters and the woman in profile in the centre, is painted in a characteristically Impressionist manner with delicate feathery touches of rich luminous tones. On the left of the composition, completed during the second stage, Renoir adopted a more linear style. The figures here, including the full-length young woman and the man standing behind her, have clearly defined outlines, precisely drawn features and a greater sense of three-dimensional form.

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