Renoir spent part of the summer of 1881 at the country home of his patron Paul Berard in the small Normandy village of Wargemont. During his stay, Renoir painted two similar still lifes in contrasting color harmonies, showing the family’s faïence jardinière piled high with peaches. Berard purchased the present work for himself; the other version (61.101.12) was featured in the seventh Impressionist exhibition the following year.
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Credit Line:The Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ittleson Jr. Purchase Fund, 1956
The Painting: Each globe of soft-skinned, rosy fruit is separated from the others by sprigs of dark foliage from another plant, and only the peach at the top retains its own twig and leaves. The arrangement is traditional: there are comparable still lifes by other French artists of the time, notably Henri Fantin-Latour, and, in the eighteenth century, Jean Siméon Chardin. The peaches are accompanied by bunches of purple and larger green grapes with their foliage, a small bunch of green grapes, and a single grape of the same color. The fruit casts delicate shadows on the white tablecloth, which, with its distinct pattern of squares, had been starched, pressed, and folded. The blue background shades toward mauve in some of the darker passages and a pallid yellow in the light. The small, separate, transparent blue strokes and marks are not orderly but instead form an enlivening pattern that contributes to a sense of depth. Fruits of the Midi (Art Institute of Chicago, 1933.1176), also signed and dated 1881, was painted several months later. The contrast between the white cloth and the abstract pastel background is comparable. The variety and brilliant colors of the fruit and the much stronger effects of light and shadow in the Chicago picture arise from the fact that it was painted in the brilliant Mediterranean sunlight of Naples. Both works illustrate Renoir’s exceptional sensitivity to atmosphere and texture.
The Provenance: When not occupied with portraits of the Berard family (see The Met, 61.101.15) or decorations for the manor house at Wargemont, in Normandy, Renoir was free to select his subjects, which included landscapes begun outdoors before the motif, in accordance with Impressionist principles, and still lifes. This is one of two works at The Met (the other is 61.101.12) depicting peaches in a shallow blue and white footed faïence jardinière. Both are signed and dated 1881 and were therefore painted during the artist’s late summer visit. Although they are close in size, they are not a pair, and there is no record that either was commissioned. Renoir gave or sold Still Life with Peaches and Grapes to Paul Berard, who lent the canvas to Durand-Ruel for an exhibition at his Paris gallery in 1892.
Katharine Baetjer 2021
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): Renoir. 81.
Paul Berard, Paris and Wargemont (1881?–d. 1905; probably gift of the artist; his estate sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 8–9, 1905, no. 27, as "Les pêches," for Fr 6,000 to Lucien Guérin for Pra); Albert Pra, Paris (1905–38; his estate sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, June 17, 1938, no. 51, as "Les fruits," for Fr 465,000 to Rosenberg); [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, from 1938; inv. 3993; sold to Bignou]; [Étienne Bignou, Paris, until 1939; sold to Cargill]; William A. Cargill, Carruth, Bridge of Weir, Scotland (1939–52; stored at Reid & Lefevre, New York, during the war and sold in October 1952 to Bignou); [Étienne Bignou, Paris, 1952; sold to Salz]; [Sam Salz, New York, 1952–53; sold to Vogel]; Edwin C. Vogel, New York (1953–56; sold to The Met)
Paris. Galeries Durand-Ruel. "Exposition A. Renoir," May 1892, no. 60 (as "Peches et raisins, lent by Paul Bérard [sic]).
Paris. Galeries Bernheim Jeune et Fils. "Exposition A. Renoir," January 25–February 10, 1900, no. 7 (as "Pêches et raisins," lent by M. Bérard [sic]).
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "Exposition Renoir, 1841–1919," 1933, no. 63 (as "Peches [sic] et Raisins," lent by Albert Pra, Paris).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "The Age of Impressionism and Objective Realism," May 3–June 2, 1940, no. 36 (as "Still-Life," lent anonymously by Bignou Gallery, New York).
New York. Bignou Gallery. "A Selection of 19th Century French Paintings," October 22–November 17, 1945, no. 9 (as "Peaches," lent anonymously).
London. Lefevre Fine Art Ltd. "Renoir," 1948, no. 8 (lent anonymously).
New York. Wildenstein. "Renoir: In Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Renoir's Death," March 27–May 3, 1969, no. 38.
Naples. Museo di Capodimonte. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," December 3, 1986–February 1, 1987, no. 42 (as "Natura morta con pesche e uva").
Milan. Pinacoteca di Brera. "Capolavori Impressionisti dei Musei Americani," March 4–May 10, 1987, no. 42.
Fort Lauderdale. Museum of Art. "Corot to Cézanne: 19th Century French Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," December 22, 1992–April 11, 1993, no catalogue.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920," February 4–May 6, 2007, no. 101.
Berlin. Neue Nationalgalerie. "Französische Meisterwerke des 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 1–October 7, 2007, unnumbered cat.
Atlanta. High Museum of Art. "Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past," October 16, 2007–January 13, 2008, no. 82.
Denver Art Museum. "Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past," February 23–May 25, 2008, no. 82.
Seattle Art Museum. "Inspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past," June 19–September 21, 2008, no. 82.
Exposition Renoir, 1841–1919. Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. Paris, 1933, p. 29, no. 63, remarks that it was painted at Wargemont and appears as pl. XXXVIII in his "Album".
Musée de l'Orangerie. Exposition Renoir, 1841–1919; Album de soixante-quatre reproductions. [Paris], 1933, unpaginated, no. 63, pl. XXXVIII.
Maurice Berard. Maitres du XIXe siècle: Renoir à Wargemont. Paris, 1938, pp. 12–13, unpaginated ill.
"Vom Pariser Markt." Weltkunst 12, no. 26/27 (July 3, 1938), p. 4, ill.
Charles Sterling. La Nature morte de l'antiquité à nos jours. Paris, 1952, p. 90, pl. 89 [2nd French ed., rev. 1981, p. 124, pl. 89].
François Daulte. Letter to Theodore Rousseau. April 4, 1963, gives information about its provenance, including a reference to the "Inventaire des tableaux de Renoir vendus avant 1891," which lists this painting as sold to Durand-Ruel on October 10, 1881.
François Daulte. Letter to Theodore Rousseau. April 30, 1963, corrects his previously given provenance information, stating that Durand-Ruel purchased this picture from the artist on February 7, 1881 (but see 11/18/21 memo in curatorial file).
Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 153–54, ill.
, catalogues the painting.
Elda Fezzi. L'opera completa di Renoir. [reprint ed., 1981]. Milan, 1972, pp. 109–10, ill.
Charles S. Moffett. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985, p. 166, ill. (color).
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 482, ill.
Richard Rand inThe Clark Brothers Collect: Impressionist and Early Modern Paintings. Exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, Mass., 2006, p. 262, fig. 194, notes that when Sterling Clark purchased this picture, he claimed it was superior to his brother's similar "Still Life with Peaches" (MMA 61.101.12); states that Stephen Clark was a member of the purchasing committee of the board of trustees when this work was acquired by the MMA and four years later bequeathed his version to the Museum, remarking "one can easily imagine Stephen's pleasure in voting for the acquisition with the knowledge that his own painting would in time hang alongside it, as Renoir had intended".
Guy-Patrice Dauberville, and Michel Dauberville, with Camille Fremontier-Murphy. Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles. Vol. 1, 1858–1881. Paris, 2007, pp. 138–39, no. 46, ill.
Ann Dumas inInspiring Impressionism: The Impressionists and the Art of the Past. Ed. Ann Dumas. Exh. cat., High Museum of Art, Atlanta. Denver, 2007, pp. 40, 261, no. 82, ill. p. 45 (color).
Susan Alyson Stein inThe Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1800–1920. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. New York, 2007, pp. 138–39, 253, no. 101, ill. (color and black and white).
Susan Alyson Stein inMasterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, p. 155.
Anne Distel. Renoir. New York, 2010, colorpls. 137, 143 (overall and detail).
Daniel Marchesseau inPierre-Auguste Renoir: Revoir Renoir. Ed. Daniel Marchesseau. Exh. cat., Fondation Pierre Gianadda. Martigny, 2014, p. 138.
The jardinière depicted was also the subject of a similar still life by Renoir in the Museum's collection (61.101.12). Both paintings were executed in 1881 at the summer home of Renoir's friend Paul Bérard in Wargemont, near Dieppe, where the compote often decorated the dining room table (see Bérard 1938).
A replica or fake was sold at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 10, 1943, no. 63.
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