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Pierre-Auguste Renoir The Rose Garden at Wargemont
The Rose Garden at Wargemont, painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the summer of 1879, is an eloquent rendering of the rose garden at Castle Wargemont, an eighteenth century chateau where the artist often went to paint. Staying with one of his his most prestigious patrons, the banker Paul Bérard and his family, Renoir revelled in the stunning abundance of flora and faunae that grew with wild abandon in the grounds of Wargemont. Frequented by a number of Renoir's Impressionist cohorts, including the painter Mary Cassatt, the chateau is located just six miles north of Dieppe, offering the renowned painters an ideal place to relax and to explore the landscape of the surrounding coastline. At Wargemont Renoir rediscovered the joys of the outdoors he had already depicted with such incandescent joy at Argenteuil and Chatou, and bathed in the vibrant canvas of light that the location offered. With its facade weathered by time and emerging at intervals across the rose garden and with its bricks dotted with blooming flowers the ageing building itself provided the ideal counterpoint to the lively and verdant textures of the natural world.
Deep in the undergrowth, one can just make out the dim vestiges of a human presence, signalled by two bobbling straw hats seen entering the house far beyond the array of roses which dominates the foreground. Although in real life nowhere near the size depicted by the artist, Renoir placed his easel near the edge of the circular flowerbed, thus exaggerating the size of the roses in comparison to the height of the castle. Owned by his patron, Bérard, an esteemed financial businessman from a family of Protestant bankers, Renoir depicted both the lushness of the terrain and the wealth of its owner. Having met Bérard at the Salon of Madame Charpentier the year before, the pair struck up a close friendship, quickly leading to a sequence of portraits of Paul Berard and his wife, Margaret, their four children - Andrew, Lucy, Martha and Marguerite - as well as their nephew and niece.
Among the portraits of the Bérard family,are some of the most famous character studies enacted by Renoir. This period of intense productivity was buoyed by an extraordinary sense of joy and satisfaction that emerged from the artist's works of this period. Turning briefly to carefree subjects such as board-games, mythological studies, and decorative pieces, the friendship between Renoir and his patron was an unusually open and experimental one. Arguably more importantly, through this working relationship Renoir was introduced to a wide circle of banking patrons, sealing his future and the continuation of his distinctly idiosyncratic craft.
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