Two Sisters (On the Terrace) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Renoir painted Two Sisters on the Terrace in April 1881, using oil on canvas. Paul Durand-Ruel, an art dealer, bought it for 1500 Francs on July 7, 1881.
Annie S. Coburn purchased the picture in 1925, and it was presented to the Art Institute of Chicago, where it has been housed since 1933. Two Sisters was painted by Renoir on the top terrace of Café Fournaise in the Chatou town on the Seine's banks in Paris. Renoir painted Luncheon of the Boating Party, among many other works, at this location because he was a regular client. Despite the title, the painting's two subjects are unrelated.
Jeanne Darlot, who subsequently went on to become an actress, plays the older sister. Both sisters are dressed nicely, with the eldest in a dark blue flannel dress and a bright red bonnet with a flower. She sits silently in a chair, her gaze fixed on the horizon.
Her serene face expression and immaculate youthful complexion have been nicely depicted by the artist. The small child stares at the artist, wide-eyed and innocent, while remaining close to her sibling, as if in need of her comfort. With both hands, she is holding their basket. The dramatic contrast between the sisters in the front and the environment behind them is created by selecting a softer, more natural palette for the background instead of the vibrant colors used for the sisters' clothing.
As he started to move away from Impressionism around this period, the separation between figure and background grew increasingly prominent. Spring has arrived, and the trees behind the terrace appear to be in full bloom. The vines and plants that wrap their way around the terrace's ironwork are showing signs of new life.
The powerful brush strokes in this painting convey the vigor of nature at this time of year. The picture is a celebration of youth and optimism. On the Seine, behind the sisters, there is a boat. The fractured reflection of the vessel and its occupant creates a beautiful impression of water movement.
Renoir used layers of oil paint to initially fill in the basic details of the painting before focusing on specific components with additional white paint touches. The larger image below shows this better, with details added to flowers in the sisters' two hats, as well as the elder sister's flower pocket, which is carefully placed on the right-hand side of her coat's front. Renoir continues in this vein into the small garden beyond them.
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