As a good artist, Renoir also went through periods of crisis and low self-esteem. And one of the most critical moments in this regard took place around 1881. As he himself wrote, he had taken Impressionism to its ultimate consequences, and came to the conclusion that we he knew how to paint or draw.
Renoir's Blonde Bather
Luckily for him, that year he took a trip toItaly, and there he decided to reformulate his painting. The work of the classics undoubtedly greatly influenced this, and especially that of his adored Rafael, the great painter of theRenaissance. An artist of whom he said that he had never painted in the open air, and that nevertheless he dominated art thanks to the fact that he had observed the exterior a lot, the light, the Sun,…
The fact is that from this time on his paintings will have much more drawing and will have more precise contours, without this implying the renunciation of the chromatic and lighting achievements of impressionist art. On the contrary, it's like an evolution.
A good example of this is this canvas from 1882, in which he paints his young wife Aline in a boat, located off the Italian island of Capri. It is a portrait in which the figure, its features, its forms are perfectly outlined. And thanks to the flesh color of her skin and the blond of her hair, it stands out exceptionally against the blue of the sea.
It's a portraitin which the woman appears completely nude. But regardless of that, it is a work with a very classical spirit, especially with regard to its composition. A very balanced composition, since it is based on the triangular shape that the protagonist's body occupies.
But if the composition is classical, it is true that Renoir's way of painting is very personal and innovative. His process began by pasting the colors and diluting them in turpentine. And then he would begin to sketch the figures with the charcoal. From there, he set out to generate volume through color. For example, for the body he uses colors like ocher or red, but to give it shade he adds violet.
That in relation to the figure, but how to create a background that would surround it and give it even more presence. Well, for this he paints the blue of the sea, but with the paint still tender he superimposes very pasty brushstrokes of yellow, with which he brightens the entire painting.
In short, Renoir, as the great painter that he was, managed to make his art not watertight, and of course it evolved over time. Something that is not so visible in other artists of his generation.