Monday, 15 March 2010

Redheaded Venus of the Week 2: After the Bath by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

After the Bath (1888) 65x54cm

This is Agent Triple P's favourite Renoir (1814-1919) and, quite possibly, his favourite picture of all time. This image is a scan from a book that belonged to Agent Triple P's father: The Female Nude in European Painting (1957) by French art historian Jean-Louis Vaudoyer. It was one of only eight colour plates in the book, which may have something to do with Triple P's reaction to it when he was younger.

Renoir painted over 6,000 pictures but we would venture that this is one of his best and, in our opinion, his best nude. She is a perfect voyeur's subject; caught seemingly lost in the process of drying her perfectly plump, pink body. The raised arm and the hand holding the towel just draw attention to her perfectly shaped breast.

Renoir, it is said, never really liked women; not as people anyway. His friend Georges Riviere noted that although " he gave women a beguiling appearance in his paintings...he generally took no pleasure in their conversation...he only liked women if they were susceptible to becoming models". Renoir himself said that he wanted to paint figures "like beautiful fruit" hoping that the viewer would respond to his paintings in such a way that they would want "to stroke a breast or a back". We can't help feeling that he totally succeeded in his aims with this marvellous figure.

This particular painting was sold in the mid-nineties to a Japanese collector for over £6million. A bargain!

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