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Garden in the Rue Cortot, Monmartre
Garden in the Rue Cortot, Monmartre, 1876
Pierre Auguste Renoir
Oil on canvas
151.8 x 87.5 cm
Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Acquired through the generosity of Mrs. Alan M. Scaife
Many Impressionist painters, like Renoir, looked to nature as a source of inspiration for their art. The textures, colors and variety of forms found in nature allowed Impressionist painters to experiment with their painting techniques and compositions. Landscape in particular became a popular subject for the Impressionists as the artists studied light and atmospheric effects. It was often necessary for Renoir, who lived in Paris for much of his life, to travel away from the city to paint natural landscapes. For Garden in the rue Cortot, Montmartre, however, Renoir painted the lush landscape in the overgrown garden located behind the apartment and studio he rented in the bohemian Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre.

The urban garden grows in a wild profusion that Renoir captures in an explosion of color and paint. The thickly applied paint, called impasto, adds textural richness and detail to the blooming dahlias. In contrast, the garden fence and the trees beyond are painted less thickly in a muddled haze of blues, greens and purples, creating a distinction between foreground and background. Two men lean against the fence, engaged in conversation. Because Renoir often invited his artist friends to his studio, the two may be artists Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley.

Renoir reused a canvas to paint Garden in the rue Cortot, covering an earlier composition that contained a larger figure of a moustached man. Renoir must have been pleased with his new painting of the garden because he chose to show it in the third Impressionist Exhibition, the last of the eight official Impressionist exhibitions in which Renoir willingly participated.

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