The letter (1900) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The letter - Pierre-Auguste Renoir - 1900

Artwork Information

TitleThe letter
ArtistPierre-Auguste Renoir
Art MovementImpressionism

About The letter

“The Letter” is a genre painting completed in 1900 by the artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a renowned figure within the Impressionism movement. This artwork exemplifies the characteristics of Impressionism and the inclination towards capturing everyday scenes with an emphasis on the interplay of light, color, and brushwork.

The artwork portrays an intimate scene of two women engaged in reading a letter. The woman on the right, draped in a white blouse with a large bow at the neck, leans forward with her face gently resting on her hand, suggesting deep immersion in the contents of the letter. Atop her head is a vibrant, broad-brimmed hat adorned with a flourish of red flowers, providing a striking contrast against the soft, muted background tones and capturing the viewer’s eye with its bright color palette.

Beside her, the woman on the left wears a warm, rust-colored garment, structured with intricate folds that highlight Renoir’s skillful rendering of fabric and form. Her dark hair is styled in a neat updo, and her gaze, directed towards the letter or possibly the other woman’s reaction, is filled with curiosity or anticipation. The sense of immediacy in their interaction invites viewers into this quiet moment, as the two seem to be completely absorbed in the private narrative unfolding before them.

Renoir’s brushwork is loose and lively, typifying the Impressionist style. Soft dabs of paint create an atmospheric quality where the details are not sharply defined, allowing a sense of movement and light to permeate the scene. The background suggests an indoor setting with minimal distraction, focusing all attention on the women and the letter that bonds them in this captured moment of everyday life.

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