Rediscovering Pierre-Auguste Renoir at The Frick

January 26, 2012 | by -jill sieracki | Pursuits

Dance in the City by Pierre-Auguste Renoir,
on loan from the Museé d’Orsay in Paris

This month, an exhibit five years in the making will debut in The Frick Collection’s vast East Gallery. “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting” explores the French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s commitment to the large-scale format. “This scale was for him very meaningful; it’s not just occasional. It’s really a format that he rejoices in,” says Colin B. Bailey, the Frick’s deputy director. “I would argue that it brings forth some of his most impressive, ambitious, beautiful pictures.”

The exhibition, which includes nine paintings from the Impressionist decade (1874 to 1885), culled from museums in London, Paris, Boston, and other cities, includes the painting The Umbrellas, last seen in the US in 1886. Says Bailey of the work, “It’s one of the most mesmerizing of Renoirs.”

However, it was The Promenade, purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1914 and part of the museum’s permanent collection, which was the inspiration for the exhibition. In preparation, the painting was sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for study, during which an infrared analysis revealed two women in the background, painted over by Renoir. “Our pictures have never left the Frick, so it’s never been part of an exhibition and it hasn’t been, in some ways, studied or explored,” says Bailey. “I feel very strongly that for every work that we’ve asked to come here, we should encourage as much new study as possible. So for us, that was a fantastic, unexpected insight into Renoir’s process.” “Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting” is on display February 7 through May 13; 1 E. 70th St., 212-288-0700

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