"He loves everything that is joyous, brilliant, and consoling in life," an anonymous interviewer once wrote about Pierre-Auguste Renoir. This may explain why Two Sisters (On the Terrace) is one of the most popular paintings in the Art Institute. Here Renoir depicted the radiance of lovely young women on a warm and beautiful day. The older girl, wearing the female boater's blue ﬂannel, is posed in the center of the evocative landscape backdrop of Chatou, a suburban town where the artist spent much of the spring of 1881. She gazes absently beyond her younger companion, who seems, in a charming visual conceit, to have just dashed into the picture. Technically, the painting is a tour de force: Renoir juxtaposed solid, almost life-size figures against a landscape that - like a stage set - seems a realm of pure vision and fantasy. The sewing basket in the left foreground evokes a palette, holding the bright, pure pigments that the artist mixed, diluted, and altered to create the rest of the painting. Although the girls were not actually sisters, Renoir's dealer showed the work with this title, along with, Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando and others, at the seventh Impressionist exhibition, in 1882.
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