Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was the only Impressionist artist to paint Orientalist themes, yet little has been written about the two journeys he took to the French North African colony of Algeria in 1881 and 1882. There he created more than two dozen stunning works, depicting exotic scenes of ancient stone mosques, milling crowds at a festival in the Casbah, and spectacular palm fronds in the botanical garden. This text, published to accompany a travelling exhibition organized by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, assembles for all of Renoir's Algerian paintings as a coherent body of work. The volume situates Renoir's early studio Orientalism within the great tradition of French Orientalist painting. The landscapes and figure paintings Renoir completed in Algiers, several of which are previously unpublished, are discussed in the context of the topography of the city and of the ethnography of its people. Period photographs, engravings, maps and postcards, together with an essay exploring the Algeria beyond Renoir's canvases, provide historical and cultural background on the country and on the French presence there.
Roger Benjamin is senior lecturer in art theory at the National Institute of the Arts and visiting fellow at the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. David Prochaska is associate professor of history at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
"A scrupulous examination of a significant but understudied area of Renoir's oeuvre." John House, Courtauld Institute of Art
This volume is the catalogue for an exhibition at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts from 16 February to 11 May 2003; the Dallas Museum of Art from 8 June to 7 September 2003; and to the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, from 6 October 2003 to 18 January 2004.
Roger Benjamin, Stephen P. Leatherman
RENOIR & ALGERIA
Clark Art Institute
Yale University Press
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