Category Archive 'Pierre-Auguste Renoir'

29 Aug 2019

New Yorker Critic Condemns Renoir as a Sexist Dirty Old Man

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La baigneuse endormie [The Sleeping Bather], 1897, Winterthur.

The New Yorker rather outdid itself in the “PC Assaults on Civilization” Sweepstakes this week with Peter Schjedahl‘s smackdown of Renoir.

Targeting Renoir as problematic, sexist, and prurient seems not only Philistine, Puritanical, and just plain unkind, it seems to constitute a downright fascistic rejection of la douceur de vivre.

Roger Kimball identifies precisely what is so fundamentally wrong here in the Spectator.

Schjeldahl’s judgments about Renoir are a fastidiously composed congeries of up-to-the-minute elite opinion. There at The New Yorker, everyone will agree with Schjeldahl about Renoir or — the more important point — about subjugating him to the strictures prevalent among the beautiful people circa 2019. What made Schjeldahl’s essay notorious were not his particular judgments about Renoir’s art or character but rather his imperative anachronism. ‘An argument is often made that we shouldn’t judge the past by the values of the present,’ Schjeldahl writes, ‘but that’s a hard sell in a case as primordial as Renoir’s.’

Is it? As Ed Driscoll pointed out at Instapundit, Schjeldahl’s essay is sterling example of what C.S. Lewis described as ‘chronological snobbery,’ the belief that ‘the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present, simply by virtue of its temporal priority or the belief that since civilization has advanced in certain areas, people of earlier time periods were less intelligent.’ If, Driscoll observes, we add the toxic codicil that those previous times were ‘therefore wrong and also racist’ we would have ‘a perfect definition of today’s SJWs.’

Exactly. Driscoll goes on to quote Jon Gabriel, who has anatomized this process under the rubric of ‘cancel culture,’ a culture of willful and barbaric diminishment.

‘Cancel culture,’ Gabriel notes, ‘is spreading for one simple reason: it works. Instead of debating ideas or competing for entertainment dollars, you can just demand anyone who annoys you to be cast out of polite society.’ It’s already come to a college campus near you, and is epidemic on social and other sorts of media. not to mention through the so-called ‘Human Resources’ departments of many companies. Wander ever so slightly outside the herd of independent minds and, bang, it’s ostracism or worse.

There are many ironies attendant on the spread of ‘cancel culture.’ One irony is that, despite its origins in the effete eyries of elite culture, the new ethic of conformity exhibits an extraordinary and intolerant provincialism. The British man of letters David Cecil got to the nub of this irony when, in his book Library Looking-Glass, he noted that ‘there is a provinciality in time as well as in space.’

    ‘To feel ill-at-ease and out of place except in one’s own period is to be a provincial in time. But he who has learned to look at life through the eyes of Chaucer, of Donne, of Pope and of Thomas Hardy is freed from this limitation. He has become a cosmopolitan of the ages, and can regard his own period with the detachment which is a necessary foundation of wisdom.’

It has become increasingly clear as the imperatives of political correctness make ever greater inroads against free speech and the perquisites of dispassionate inquiry that the battle against this provinciality of time is one of the central cultural tasks of our age. It is a battle from which the traditional trustees of civilization — schools and colleges, museums, many churches — have fled. Increasingly, the responsibility for defending the intellectual and spiritual foundations of Western civilization has fallen to individuals and institutions that are largely distant from, when they are not indeed explicitly disenfranchised from, the dominant cultural establishment.

Leading universities today command tax-exempt endowments in the tens of billions of dollars. Leading cultural organs like The New Yorker and The New York Times parrot the ethos of the academy and exert a virtual monopoly on elite opinion.

But it is by no means clear, notwithstanding their prestige and influence, whether they do anything to challenge the temporal provinciality of their clients. No, let me amend that: it is blindingly clear that they do everything in their considerable power to reinforce that provinciality, not least by their slavish capitulation to the dictates of the enslaving presentism of political correctness.

RTWT

16 Jan 2017

Renoir on Film

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The great Pierre-Auguste Renoir (born 1841) filmed painting, and smoking like a chimney, at age 78 in 1919.

28 Sep 2012

Flea Market Renoir Sale Canceled Indefinitely

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage Bords de Seine [Landscape Banks of the Seine], c.1879

The Washington Post apparently did a little investigating of its own, and found that the Flea-Market-find Renoir about to be auctioned tomorrow at Potomack Galleries in Alexandria belonged to a Baltimore Museum and had been stolen in 1951.

[A] Washington Post reporter entered the library at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In a box full of Saidie May’s letters and artwork receipts lay one major clue: records showing that she had lent the painting to the museum in 1937. The discovery startled museum officials, who had already said the flea-market Renoir never entered their institution.

But armed with the loan registration number, museum officials dug up in their collection records an even-more-astounding clue about the Renoir’s journey. An old museum loan registration document revealed that the tiny landscape, measuring 51 / 2 by 9 inches, was stolen Nov. 17, 1951, from the BMA — shortly after May’s death.

Now the painting’s highly anticipated auction by the Potomack Company has been canceled. The FBI is investigating, and museum officials are trying to learn more about the painting’s theft. They couldn’t explain why it does not appear on a worldwide registry of stolen and lost art.

20 Sep 2012

A West Virginia Flea Market Renoir

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage Bords de Seine [Landscape Banks of the Seine], c.1879

The Boston Globe story explains that the frame featured a very broad hint, and it didn’t take a lot of research to authenticate the painting.

A woman who paid $7 for a box of trinkets at a West Virginia flea market two years ago apparently acquired an original painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir without knowing it.

The woman considered discarding the painting to salvage its frame, but instead made an appointment to have it evaluated in July by the Potomack Co. auction house in Alexandria, Va., said its fine arts director Anne Norton Craner.

When the woman pulled the painting out of a garbage bag she carried it in, Craner was nearly certain the painting was a Renoir with its distinct colors, light and brushwork. A plaque on the front labeled it ‘‘Renoir.’’

‘‘My gut said that it was right, but you have to then check,’’ Craner said.

French handwriting on the back of the canvass included a label and number. Craner turned to the catalog by French gallery Bernheim-Jeune that’s published all of Renoir’s work.

‘‘Low and behold, it was in volume one,’’ she said.

An image of the painting was published in black and white, and the gallery’s stock number matched the flea market find. So Craner made a digital image of the flea market painting, converted it to black and white for a closer look, and the brush strokes also matched, she said.

‘‘It’s not a painting you would fake,’’ Craner said. ‘‘If you’re going to fake something, you’d fake something easier.’’

Painting No. 24349 turns out to be Renoir’s painting ‘‘Paysage Bords de Seine,’’ which translates to Banks of the River Seine, Craner determined. It dates to about 1879 and measures 6 inches by 10 inches.

The painting is set for auction Sept. 29. It could fetch $75,000 or more, Craner said.

Potomack Auction Sale 40, Lot 1


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