La Source (1875)

Renoir, Pierre-Auguste (1841-1919)

La Source (The Source)
Oil on canvas, 131 x 77.5 cm
Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

The model here is Henriette Henriot, an actress who posed frequently for Renoir during his impressionist years. Renoir captures her in a state of undress, perhaps just having cooled off in the water; the damp undergarment clings to her thigh. This painting would have scandalized audiences during Renoir‘s time. The colors, first of all, with purplish blotches falling across shoulders and legs, were jarring for audiences used to looking at smooth idealized bodies. Moreover, Renoir has depicted a real woman rather than some mythological nymph—a breach of decorum. (BF)

See also:

• Henriot, Henriette (1857-1944)