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Large Bather

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841 - 1919

Made in France, Europe


Oil on canvas

38 1/4 x 28 3/4 inches (97.2 x 73 cm) Framed: 45 3/4 × 37 1/2 × 4 1/4 inches (116.2 × 95.3 × 10.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, 1978

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Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    The Philadelphia Museum of Art is privileged to own seven nudes by Renoir (four paintings and three bronze sculptures), including the picture that he called his masterwork, The Great Bathers of 1884-87 in the Carroll S. Tyson, Jr., Collection.1 Fond of female subjects and determined to continue what he saw as an important academic tradition, Renoir returned to painting nudes late in his career. Inspired by Titian and Peter Paul Rubens, who had also painted monumental female nudes, Renoir's late nudes are healthy, mature women with ample flesh and a timeless, classical quality. From 1903 to 1905, Renoir painted four voluptuous nudes in closely related vertical compositions. This one lacks any suggestion of a setting, as the background is an indistinct haze of green, brown, and yellow. Free of the clothing and straw hat that rest beside her, the bather exemplifies a state of being untethered by time or narrative. The sinuous, winding folds of her flesh are created of luminous layers of paint, and the figure is so softly modeled that the edges of her skin seem to melt into the background. In a rare gesture of self-display, she lifts her hair from her face, acknowledging us and inviting us to gaze upon her body. Jennifer A. Thompson, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 84.

    1) Christopher Riopelle, Renoir: The Great Bathers, Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin 86, nos. 367-68 (Fall 1990), p. 6.


With Durand-Ruel, Paris; Emil Staub (1867-1929), Männedorf, Switzerland, by 1916 or 1917 [1]; his wife Alma Staub-Terlinden (1883-1970) from 1929 until 1950 [2]; with Wildenstein & Co., New York, 1950-51; sold to Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee, Devon, PA, February 16, 1951 [3]; gift to PMA, 1978. 1. The sales catalogue for Christie's, London, 5 February 2009 has an article on the Staub-Terlinden collection which describes two main purchases in 1916 and 1917. The catalogue describes the Large Bather as among the erly purchases. The exhibition of Large Bather in Zurich in 1917 would suggest it was already in their collection since they were generous lenders to exhibitions. See also Jean René, "L'art français dans une collection suisse, la collection de M. Staub-Terlinden," La Renaissance, August 1923, pp. 472-73. 2. Mrs. Staub-Terlinden moved to New York in March 1939. Wildenstein & Co. are listed as lender to the 1949 Century Association exhibition, "Trends in European Painting"; however, Mrs. E. Staub-Terlinden (1883-1970) is listed as lender to the Wildenstein, New York exhibition "Renoir", March 23-April 29, 1950. 3. Dated receipt in curatorial file.