Works of master Impressionists van Gough, Renoir at Currier Mueseum
The van Gogh painting features a peasant in a field near a country lane. The city of Paris is visible in the distance. The painting reveals how the work of contemporary impressionist and neo-impressionist artists living in Paris influenced van Gogh. After he arrived in Paris, van Gogh changed from the drab, dark colors of his Dutch subjects, mostly peasants laboring in the field, to a warmer palette and subject matter. During his two years there, van Gogh experimented with new styles, subjects and techniques. He applied small dots of paint that visually combine to create a vibrant and sunnier atmosphere. This style of painting—called pointillism—is most closely associated with artists Georges Seurat and van Gogh's close friend, Paul Signac.
While many know Renoir as a figure painter, this work is essentially a landscape. In the deep shadows of the painting stands a woman in a blue dress holding a white parasol and a bunch of freshly picked flowers. Behind her is another woman painted more darkly, emerging from the darkness of the trees. The contrasting pigment and especially the brightly "lit" parasol, instantly draw your eye deeper down the pathway to where the women are standing.
The painting was likely done in the summer of 1873 when Renoir went to stay with Claude Monet, who was living in Argenteuil, about five miles northwest of Paris. It was probably painted outside and is wholly impressionistic. The flowers, shrubs and both women are made up of small dabs of color, blurring the distinction between the people and nature.