Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s oil on canvas painting, “Two Sisters (On the Terrace),” captures two impeccably dressed women enjoying an afternoon on a terrace overlooking the Seine river in Chatou, France. The painting was completed in 1881 during the spring months and is considered one of the artist’s most enduring works. Renoir spent considerable time working on this piece while sitting on the actual Maison Fournaise terrace, which was a popular gathering place for middle-class Parisians.
“Two Sisters (On the Terrace)” originally sold to art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel for 1500 Francs on July 7th, 1881. The painting was first shown publicly at the seventh Impressionist exhibition held in Paris during Spring 1882. Although initially met with mixed reviews by critics and viewers alike because of its solid modeling, balanced composition and painted surface textures that differed from other contemporary impressionist paintings that had more sketchy brushwork and larger visual patches of bright color; this artwork eventually has come to be regarded as one of Renoir’s masterpiece.
The Art Institute of Chicago has housed “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)” since 1933 where it remains a beloved fixture amongst visitors who marvel at Renoir’s attention to detail when it comes to light reflection particularly through his successful depiction of surface patterns including delicate lacework drapery details; showcasing how such devices can capture something as ephemeral as a summer day while simultaneously emphasizing his mastery in rendering social customs deftly – so intrinsic among late-19th-century urban middle-class people particularly those familiar with Western European cultural trends.