Sailor Boy (Portrait of Robert Nunes) (1883) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Sailor Boy (Portrait of Robert Nunes) - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - 1883

Artwork Information

TitleSailor Boy (Portrait of Robert Nunes)
ArtistPierre-Auguste Renoir
Dimensions80 x 130.2 cm
Art MovementImpressionism
Current LocationBarnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA, US

About Sailor Boy (Portrait of Robert Nunes)

The artwork titled “Sailor Boy (Portrait of Robert Nunes)” is a captivating oil on canvas painted by the renowned artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir in the year 1883. This piece is a quintessential example of the Impressionism art movement, a style characterized by small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities, and ordinary subject matter. The portrait is of a generous size, measuring 80 by 130.2 cm. Renoir’s portrait is housed in the Barnes Foundation, located in Philadelphia, PA, US, as part of their prestigious collection. Within the genre of portraiture, Renoir has beautifully captured the essence of a young subject.

The artwork presents a young boy dressed in a sailor’s attire, which includes a dark navy blue ensemble accented with white stripes and a distinct red pompom atop his cap. He is posed in a confident stance with one hand resting on his hip and the other holding onto a thin object, possibly a stick or a toy sailing mast that alludes to his nautical attire. The boy’s gaze is both direct and tranquil, engaging the viewer with a subtle intensity.

The shimmering background is composed of loose brushstrokes in a plethora of colors, suggesting a lively, sunlit landscape, perhaps indicative of a coastal setting resonant with the theme of the sailor suit. The ground upon which the boy stands is a swirl of autumnal colors, plants, and flowers, contributing to the overall impressionistic style of the artwork. Renoir’s technique creates a vibrant, almost ethereal atmosphere that frames the young boy, imbuing the portrait with both a sense of immediacy and timeless charm. The work encapsulates the spontaneity and fleeting moments of light that are the hallmarks of Impressionism, while also conveying a personal and endearing portrait of youth.

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