Director James Roundell talks about Renoir’s 1885 masterpiece “Au Bord de l’Eau” in the latest Dickinson video production


As Europe’s most splendid and well-populated art fair, TEFAF Maastricht 2016 approaches, DICKINSON reveals its pièce de résistance at the upcoming event: a masterwork of impressionism painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1885. “Au Bord de l’Eau” in the words of Director James Roundell – head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s from 1986-1995 – is one of “The great works of the 1870s and 80s” during which the painters Renoir, Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro were at the peak of their talent. During this period, Renoir is said to have matured in his technique, revealing a fondness for the Italian masters and French Rococo artists, namely Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) and Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806).

“Now we move to a more mature phase in Renoir’s life, when he’s looking at other great artists. We see [Renoir] moving away from the individual brushstroke to a richer surface – a tapestry of colour and textures, which provides the luxuriant feel that the picture gives.”

“Au Bord de l’Eau” 1885 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir ©DICKINSON

Au Bord de l’Eau was initially owned by Renoir’s two greatest French dealers and supporters, Ambroise Vollard and Paul Durand-Ruel. Subsequently purchased by the American artist Frank Osborn, it was then bequeathed by his widow to The Philadelphia Museum of Art where it was on display for 25 years before being de-accessioned in 1993, when funds were sought by the Museum for acquisitions. It now comes to the market for the first time since the current owner purchased it.

Commenting on Renoir’s place in the wider Art Market, Mr Roundell says: “There are too many of what I would call late Renoirs in the market. He worked on and on and on, through into the early 20th Century and we say many should I say, rather less “well-worked” paintings and studies… perhaps when his eyesight was going,” he adds. “We don’t see many of the great works from the 1870s and 1880s, principally because most of the great pieces are in museums.  To actually have a painting from the mature middle of the 1880s which depicts a very Impressionist subject, of this scale, this degree of colour and work, is quite unusual in the market, particularly at a time when perhaps Renoir has slightly slipped back into fashion perhaps compared to Monet, Pissarro and Cezanne and it could be said that his works look like they are a bit of a bargain at the moment.”

Au Bord de l’Eau will be exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht 2016, March 11-20 at Stand 402.