Arts & Culture

Two Sisters (On the Terrace)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841–1919)1881

The Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago

Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted this delightful homage to springtime, youth, and beauty on the terrace of the Fournaise family’s restaurant on the Seine River at Chatou—where, six years before, he had made “Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise,” also in the Art Institute collection. The painting was already under way by April 19, 1881, when, at lunch in Chatou with the American painter James McNeill Whistler, Renoir spoke of postponing a planned trip to London: “The weather is fine and I have my models; that’s my only excuse.” The young woman in this painting wears the blue flannel dress favored by lady boaters at the time. She and the girl at her side were not actually related. The art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel invented the title “Two Sisters” when he bought the painting from Renoir in July 1881.

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