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Bathing on the Seine, La Grenouillère

Painting, 1869, 59×80 cm
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Description of the artwork «Bathing on the Seine, La Grenouillère»

Edgar Degas hated plein airs and was ready to shoot at artists who roam high roads with easels. However, when he was asked about Renoir painting in the open air, Degas replied, “Renoir is different. He can do whatever he pleases.”
Sometimes Renoir liked to work in the open air, but he made really amazing landscapes when they featured people.
“La Grenouillère” (fr. “The Frog Pond”) was the name of the place near Paris. It became popular due to the appearance of the railway, which made it just 20 minutes away from Paris. The restaurant was located on a pontoon moored to the banks of the Seine, but its name is not a tribute to the river inhabitants. At that time, “frogs” was the word for giddy-pated unattached young ladies who swiftly changed their lovers and refused the imposed moral framework applied by society. Lovers came here to retire in the shade of trees, lonely people came to find a couple, and everyone without exception came to dance and have fun.

The Parisians were rather disingenuous and scornful about the frog girls. They whispered about their flashy bright outfits and loud laughter. However, Renoir never tried to give out moral judgments, as he looked at a pretty girl and saw just a pretty girl. Even many years later, he said, “At La Grenouillère women sometimes kissed each other on the mouth, but Lord knows they were normal enough!”

Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet came to “La Grenouillère” together, put their easels side by side and painted the same scenes. Both of them often did not have a single penny in their pockets or a single crumb in their stomachs, but they passionately caught those glints on the water, this sunlight breaking through the leaves and playing on the figures and faces of people on grass and water. Père Fournaise who owned the restaurant never took money from hungry artists, sometimes he only asked them to give him the sketches of the landscapes Renoir and Monet considered failures. He chuckled when the artists assured him that they do not have much value and no one would want to buy them. “I don’t care, while they are beautiful and hide the stains on the walls,” Fournaise said.
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Genre scene, Urban landscape

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1869

Size: 59×80 cm

Artwork in selections: 12 selections

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