Pierre Auguste Renoir
(Limoges, 1841-1919, Cagnes)
Still Life with Pheasant and Partridges, 1881
Oil on canvas, 40.5 x 65 cm
Signed upper left: Renoir
Dauberville 55
Renoir, who could not live without painting, to whom painting was like breathing, wished to make use of the hours when he could not work outdoors or had no model. During these periods he did hundreds of still lifes, with no idea of ever selling them. He was concerned only with "daubing the canvases", as he put it with off-hand modesty. They did not have to be ambitiously composed like a Cézanne still life, but they remained masterpieces, inevitably, Renoir taking his inspiration not only from nature but also from the inherited traditions of the 18th century.
This alluringly simple still life derives its charm from the contrast between the geometrical effect of the bluish tablecloth with its folds and its carmine-red border running parallel to the edge of the picture and the Baroque shapes of the stretched out dead partridge, whose silken plumage is painted as if the artist had caressed the canvas with his brush, as if it were the soft hair of his little models.