On May 21, I began work on “Pont Neuf, Paris” by Auguste Renoir. This may be the most challenging of my work at the NGA. The enormity of the details, particularly the many windows in a city architectural scene, can be a tedious task as I’m sure it must have been for Renoir. Most apparent here and the focal point of this painting is Renoir’s transcription of the effects of sunlight. The midday sun suffuses the panorama, its intensity heightening the artist’s palette and suppressing incidental detail to clarify the crowded scene. Renoir pre-sketched the architecture before setting out to paint the remainder of the scene. I began my copy in the same manner.
Edmond Renoir, the artist’s younger brother and a novice journalist in 1872, later told how Renoir secured an owner’s permission to occupy an upper floor of a cafe for one day to depict the view of the famous bridge. Edmond periodically delayed passersby long enough for the artist to record their appearance in the painting. Renoir even noted Edmond’s presence in two locations, walking stick in hand and straw hat on his head. Renoir wanted to show the energetic crowd walking across the sun-drenched pavement and going about their daily routine on this clear sunny day. He depicted vendors pushing carts carrying goods across the bridge, children at play, dogs chasing children, and the hustle and bustle of daily life. Does it make you wonder what is on the other side of the bridge?
I am at the NGA, Washington D.C. every Tuesday, (gallery 89 until the completion of this painting). Stop by and say hello.