During his trip in late summer 1883 to the English Channel island of Guernsey, Renoir painted about fifteen views of the bay and the beach of Moulin Huet, on the island's rocky southern coast. This picturesque view of the bay, seen from a vantage point favored by contemporary guidebooks, is related to three other works distinguished by their finish and by the fact that the artist signed and dated them. No doubt it was among the four Guernsey landscapes the artist sold to Durand-Ruel in the fall.
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Title:Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet, Guernsey
Guernsey: By September 5, 1883, Renoir had arrived on the Channel Island of Guernsey. He travelled there from Normandy by steamboat, stopping in Jersey, where he did not stay, and then settled in a boarding house at 4 George Road in the small island capital of Saint Peter Port. He may have been accompanied by his mistress, Aline Charigot, and by Paul Lhôte, one of the few friends who knew of his relationship with Aline. Guernsey was famous for its wild natural beauty, and the bay of Moulin Huet to the southeast was particularly admired. The high, block-like cliffs around the bay, formed of a particular type of volcanic rock, were covered late in the season with colorful and luxuriant scrub vegetation, while, in good weather, the shallow water was a brilliant turquoise. Renoir could walk with relative ease from his lodgings in the town to the various accessible viewpoints that he selected, and, in fact, one can still follow these paths today. He seems never to have painted anywhere else on the island. In a letter to his dealer, Paul Durand-Ruel, he noted that he planned to stay until October 8 or 9.
At Moulin Huet: Of the fifteen paintings Renoir worked on while visiting Guernsey, all show the bay of Moulin Huet, and most are observed from a high vantage point. Five are landscapes (including a replica of the present work known only from a Durand-Ruel photograph [private collection; Dauberville 841]). Two are close-in views of water splashing against rocks, and the balance show bathers on the beach and in the sea. Renoir would leave all or nearly all except the landscapes in an incomplete state. He told Durand-Ruel in a letter of September 27 that he would return from the trip with “several canvases and some documents for making pictures in Paris.” English visitors to Guernsey were more numerous than French, and they were less inhibited in their habits when visiting the remote Moulin Huet beach, which was not segregated by gender. Renoir, amused by their lack of inhibition, continued: "I find myself on a charming beach, quite unlike our Normandy beaches, unfortunately a bit late in the year, but not too late to be able to profit a little from it. Here people bathe among the rocks which serve as cabins, since there’s nothing else; nothing is more attractive than this mixture of women and men crowded on these rocks. One would believe oneself in a landscape by Watteau."
The Landscapes: The finished views—in addition to the present picture and the replica—are Fog on Guernsey (Cincinnati Art Museum, 2004.46), View at Guernsey (Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, 1955.601), and Bay of Moulin Huet through the Trees (private collection; House  no. 3). Each is signed and dated "83." All of the landscapes are uninhabited. They are roughly the same small, portable size, that is, varying from about forty-five to fifty-five centimeters in height and fifty-five to sixty-five in width, but they differ considerably in their palette and subject matter. The Clark picture, blond and sun drenched, focuses on a small tree and path, while that in Cincinnati includes a colorful cabin on high ground. The effect of the fourth painting is more sober, with sprigs of dark foliage encircling the view. The Met landscape is traditionally composed to invite entry through the field and into the more distant scenery. Renoir deployed a wide variety of colors, using small strokes, heavily worked, for the vegetation and rocks and thinner brush applications for the bay, sea, and sky. The water is painted in shades of blue rimmed with turquoise. Renoir may have completed this and the other canvases in the landscape group after he returned to his Paris studio. Art historian John House (1988) proposed that he sold or promised the four Guernsey landscapes to his dealer on December 15, 1883, but it has not been possible to document this assertion precisely.
Katharine Baetjer 2021
 This phrase and the longer quote that follows are cited by House 1988, digital facsimile 2006, p. 15 n. 2.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Renoir. 83.
[Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1891–1908, stock no. 1490; bought on August 25; sold on October 2 to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1908–11, stock no. 3270; sold on December 29 to Emmons]; Arthur B. Emmons, New York and Newport (1911–d. 1922); Mrs. Arthur B. Emmons (Julia W.) New York and Newport (1922–d. 1956)
London. Hayward Gallery. "The Impressionists in London," January 3–March 11, 1973, no. 50 (as "Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet").
New York. Wildenstein & Co., Inc. "Nature as Scene: French Landscape Painting from Poussin to Bonnard," October 29–December 6, 1975.
Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. "Renoir," July 9–September 18, 1988, no. 4 (as "Hills Around the Bay of Moulin Huet").
London. National Gallery. "Renoir Landscapes: 1865–1883," February 21–May 20, 2007, no. 69.
Madrid. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. "Renoir: Intimidad," October 18, 2016–January 22, 2017, no. 41.
Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao. "Renoir: Intimidad," February 7–May 15, 2017, no. 41.
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, p. 155, ill., remark that this is one of the last pictures that Renoir painted in the open, impressionistic style, before changing to the "sour" or "dry" manner; refer to another version of this landscape composition, of almost exactly the same size, which was in a private collection in Washington in 1929.
John House. Renoir, 1841–1919: Artists in Guernsey. Exh. cat., Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. Guernsey, 1988, pp. 6, 8, 10, 16 nn. 12, 14, pp. 18, 24, 38, no. 4, ill., claims that it was probably bought by Durand-Ruel from the artist on December 15, 1883.
Katharine Baetjer. European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Artists Born Before 1865: A Summary Catalogue. New York, 1995, p. 482, ill.
Colin B. Bailey inRenoir Landscapes: 1865–1883. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2007, p. 74.
John Zarobell inRenoir Landscapes: 1865–1883. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 2007, pp. 258–59, no. 69, ill. (color), remarks that since this picture is dated and was quickly sold to Durand-Ruel after Renoir's return from Guernsey, Renoir must have "perceived a market for his landscapes by this date, despite all the adverse critical reception of his recent landscapes in the press".
Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville. Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles. Vol. 2, 1882–1894. Paris, 2009, pp. 94–95, no. 840, ill.
Anne Distel. Renoir. New York, 2010, p. 225, colorpl. 205.
Guillermo Solana. Renoir: Intimacy. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2016, p. 135, no. 41, colorpl. 41 [Spanish ed., "Renoir: Intimidad," p. 135, no. 41, colorpl. 41].
Paula Luengo inRenoir: Intimacy. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Madrid, 2016, p. 186 [Spanish ed., "Renoir: Intimidad," p. 187].
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