Bathing on the Seine, La Grenouillere (c.1869)

Claude Monet and Renoir were close friends and, during the 1860s, often worked together.  They began painting the shimmering atmosphere of water and light at La Grenouillere, creating early examples of Impressionist painting. For both painters, light had become the significant unifying factor of figures and landscapes. While Monet devoted himself to landscapes, Renoir was more committed to the human figures.  Renoir painted a joyous, brilliant version of the world.   His early experience as a porcelain painter allowed him to understand the effect of bright color on a smooth white ground. He was brilliant in his handling of texture and surface.

Diane Chasseresse
Renoir's early human portraits echo the qualities of Manet's works.  In his Diane Chasseresse (1867), the boldness and strong frontal lighting are typical of Manet's, but the warmth and sensuousness are his own.  In the 1870s, Renoir continued to paint portraits that still showed Manet's influences.  However, he started to experiment with the techniques of painting "en plein air" (in open air), resulting in human portraits marked by a lighter palette and more delicate, lively brushwork.

Mme Monet and her son in their garden at Argenteuil
By 1873, Renoir became a frequent visitor at Claude Monet's home in Argenteuil.  Freed from the desire to make paintings that would match the Salon standards, he assimilated Monet's techniques.  His portrait of Monet's wife and son reveals how close artistically he had moved to Monet's aesthetic sensibilities.  Renoir created brilliant surfaces made up of small dabs of pigment applied with uniform brushstrokes in his paintings of that period; the dappled sunlight effects were also executed through his feathery brushwork and colored shadows.