Pierre Auguste Renoir
(Limoges, 1841-1919, Cagnes)
Still Life with Dahlias, ca. 1885/90
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm
Signed lower left: Renoir
Dauberville 1659
Renoir’s still life paintings meant for him a refreshing respite from bigger assignments, and this applies in particular to his flower still lifes, which he painted mainly in the middle and at the end of his career.
In contrast to Cézanne, who rarely painted flowers because they did not stand up to his slow procedure, Renoir, with his light swift touch, is here entirely in his element. And as Vollard reports, Madame Renoir knew what she was doing when she brought him from the gardens in Essoyes, her home village, or in "Les Collettes" in Cagnes the flowers of the season and placed them in the studio. Then Renoir would say, "When my wife composes a bouquet, I need only sit down and paint it."
Madame Renoir thus did the same as, later, Charlotte Berend-Corinth, who would compose for Lovis Corinth a seductive floral still life in the studio, so that in painting he could overcome his depressions.
The luxuriant dahlias in this picture with their full blooms, with their tapering petals, framed by the flamboyant leaves, lend this picture, which is Impressionistic in the narrower sense, an almost Baroque character which is redolent of Delacroix and 18th century Rococo.