Auguste Renoir first saw Provence on his way back from a tour of Algeria and Italy in 1881-1882. He visited Paul Cézanne in the port of L’Estaque, which takes its name from the range of hills just outside Marseilles. The area attracted many artists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The following year, Renoir visited again with Claude Monet. He returned to the south of France on many subsequent occasions, painting the landscapes outside Aix-en-Provence and the Mediterranean coast. He moved to the region permanently in 1907 for his health, settling at the Domaine des Collettes in Cagnes-sur-Mer. The following year, he had a house built in the neo-Provençal style, along with two studios.
Renoir was enchanted by the region’s slate-blue skies, olive groves, and small farms. He painted many agricultural landscapes, trying to capture the radical change of atmosphere he found in the south of France. He mastered the unique Mediterranean light, rendered in a range of tones and hues, some bright, some in cooler pastel tones, as in this painting.
Renoir’s late landscapes are for the main part small canvases painted with a free hand, quick, simplified sketches in the Impressionist tradition. This work can be compared to the set of sun-drenched landscapes featuring old white-walled houses half-hidden by trees painted by Renoir in the area around Cagnes in around 1910.
Cécile Bertan, Daniel Marchesseau et alii, Renoir, exh. cat. Martigny, Fondation Gianadda, 2014.
Augustin de Butler, ‘Renoir aux Collettes. L’atelier du jardin,’ Revue de l’art, n. 161, 2008: 41-48.
François Legrand, Jean-François Lasnier et alii, Renoir au XXe siècle, exh. cat. Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Los Angeles, County Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Paris, RMN, 2009.