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Le Renouveau by George Morren

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Le Renouveau by George Morren

- Item No.

Le Renouveau, a Post-Impressionist work by George Morren

Key Features

  • A magnificent Pointillist/Luminist painting by Post-Impressionist artist George Morren
  • Tiny dots of color are precisely placed to create this wonderful scene
  • The emphasis on light reflect the overall feeling of renewal
  • Le Renouveau is ranked among the most accomplished works of the Post-Impressionist movement

Item Details

  • Width:
    46 1/4 Inches
  • Height:
    42 1/2 Inches
  • Period:
  • Origin:
  • Subject:
  • Artist:
    Morren, George
George Morren
1868-1941 | Belgian

Le Renouveau
(The Renewal)

Signed "G. Morren" and dated 1892 (lower right); signed, titled and dated "George Morren / Le Renouveau / 1892" en verso
Oil on canvas

"Every woman nursing a child is a Virgin by Raphael."
-Pierre-Auguste Renoir 

A wet-nurse is caught in a moment of reflection as she breastfeeds an infant in this outstanding Pointillist oil painting by Belgian artist George Morren. The subject of this work, entitled Le Renouveau (The Renewal), is one that was rendered often during the later 19th century, due to the burgeoning concepts of childcare and early childhood development. Morren is able to capture this moment utilizing the latest concepts of Luminism to give this work an incredible radiance few artist could successfully achieve. It is for his incorporation of these elements that Le Renouveau is ranked among the most accomplished works of the Neo-Impressionist movement.

An active member of the Neo-Impressionist movement, Morren justly portrays the influence of science upon the artist of this era, which included his contemporaries Georges Seurat, Paul Signac and Théo van Rysselberghe. Scientific research delving into color theory-how the eye interprets line and color-became the avant-garde, giving birth to the Pointillist technique seen in the current offering. The use of dots of pure color seem almost haphazard when examining them from an inch or two away, but when the viewer pulls away, the eye instinctively blends the colors as if by magic, suddenly revealing the genius and precision in what Morren was able to accomplish.

Morren was particularly adept in placing emphasis upon fleeting moments of light in the natural environment, known as Luminism. The wet-nurse chose to breastfeed the infant in a public park instead of indoors in order to give the baby, and herself, the benefits of fresh air and sunlight. Befitting the subject of the painting, Morren chose spring as the backdrop of Le Renouveau, when the temperatures are cool and the foliage is just beginning to revive. The vivid golden hue radiating from the manicured lawn gives the canvas a magnificent glow. The iconic Pierre-Auguste Renoir delved into this subject using similar techniques in his 1886 painting entitled Motherhood. His wife Aline is captured nursing their son in the midst of their garden. The rays of the sun are cast in such a way that the entire work is illuminated, with striking color reflecting the nurturing theme of the composition. Undoubtedly influenced by Renoir, Morren is able to expand upon the concepts of light, color and theme Renoir pioneered in Motherhood and masterfully incorporate them into the Neo-Impressionist ideals of modernity that characterized this era in French history. The sharp focus achieved by Morren's technique adds realism that is simply not found in the sentimental works of his predecessors.

The subject of the painting broaches further social developments in childcare that allowed women to work outside of the home with the comfort of knowing their child was being taken care of by a professional. Day care appeared in France about 1840, and the Société des Crèches (Society of Nurseries) was recognized by the French government in 1869. France, in particular, began to realize the necessity for improved care and education of young children as a means of improving the entirety of society. So, it was very common for a woman to hire a wet-nurse to provide at-home care for her infant while she tended to her own career or other productive interests outside of domestic life.

Having trained briefly as a painter in his native Antwerp, Morren moved to Paris in the late 1880s and encountered the Pointillist technique of painting that he would soon incorporate into his own work. By the 1890s, his work exemplified the rich possibilities of this innovative method, characterized by tiny, tightly-painted dots of color. Because he was independently wealthy and did not need to sell his art, Morren never gained the prominence of his compatriot and fellow Neo-Impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe. Nonetheless, Morren participated in exhibitions with van Rysselberghe, Signac and Seurat, and his compositions of the 1890s rival those of his elite colleagues.

Shimmering with the light and reflection of the mid-day sun, this springtime scene of a wet nurse with babe-in-arms displays Morren's talents at his best. The subject is one that was featured in several of the Impressionist compositions of the 1870s and 1880s by Morisot, Cassatt and Renoir, but the sharp focus achieved by Morren's technique adds an element of realism that eluded his predecessors' more sentimental versions of this subject.

Canvas: 31 7/8" high x 36 1/4" wide
??Frame: 42 1/2" high x 46 1/4" wide

Jean Dubrosse;
L. Mundery;
Sale: Galerie Campo, Antwerp, October 5-6, 1965, lot 91;
Hirshl & Adler Gallery, New York;
Acquired from the above in 1977

Le Renouveau has been exhibited:
Ghent, Casino, Exposition de Gand, Salon de 1892, XXVeme Exposition centenaire, 1892, no. 534.
New York, Hirschl & Adler Galleries, Twenty Years of Post-Impressionism 1880-1900. A Selection of Paintings from the Gallery's Collection, 1977, no. 18, illustrated in the catalogue.

Select Literature:
George Morren: 1868-1941, 2000, Tony Calabrese, no. 15. Illustrated in color page 39 and in black and white page 212.
Painting by William Bouguereau

Collecting 19th Century Art

Collecting 19th Century Art
Chances are good that the wonderful landscape your parents bought 30 years ago to hang over the mantel wasn't purchased as an investment. Chances are even better that this same painting, if painted by a 19th-century artist of even reasonable note, has greatly increased in value.
Prior to the 1960s, late 19th-century artists like John William Godward, William Bouguereau and John Atkinson Grimshaw were, for the most part, names only the most studied 19th-century art scholars might recognize. It wasn't until these same scholars and museum curators began to truly recognize and appreciate these talents, along with scores of other great 19th-century painters, that the works hailing from this century really came into their own.
With that recognition has come a tremendous boon in the prices for quality 19th-century art. For instance, in 1977, the highest recorded price for a Bouguereau painting was $17,000. Just 23 years later, that same artist would achieve a hammer price of $3,526,000, placing him among a group of late 19th-century artists whose works regularly bring prices near or over the million-dollar mark.
Despite these incredible prices, much of the attraction of 19th-century art is that there are still so many extraordinary works out there to be had that won’t break the bank. Impressionist masterpieces or works by the Old Masters may be out of reach for most collectors, but those looking for superb paintings by respected artists of almost any genre won't be disappointed with the magnificent and diverse works created during the 19th century, particularly those painted in the latter half of the period. Like most worthwhile pursuits, success in building a fine 19th-century art collection comes with effort and diligence. Look at any great collection and it becomes evident that the key ingredients are love and understanding of the art.
Doing Your Homework
The best piece of advice is to do you homework. Almost every great collection of art resulted from a collaborative effort that began with careful research. Museums, galleries, auction houses, art publications and other collectors are all valuable sources of information. Develop relationships with good dealers and other experts who specialize in 19th-century art. Pick one or two areas of interest and study, using all of the tools available. Museums, galleries, auction houses, universities and the Internet can provide a wealth of both scholarly and subjective information, including insight into pricing and popularity of artists and their work. These efforts will not go unrewarded. Thorough research not only gives the collector a better grasp of the actual works, but it allows for the formulation of personal opinions and the refinement of individual taste.
Bill Rau, President and CEO of M.S. Rau Antiques, feels that by far, the most valuable piece of advice for those interested in art collecting, of any type, is to view similar works firsthand. "The more you expose yourself to the various artists of the period, the better you can recognize their quality and beauty," explains Rau. "The more exposure a collector has to the genre, the more acute their taste and eye will become. It is by studying the masterpieces in person that one can truly attain an appreciation and understanding of 19th-century art."
Value & Cost
Collecting 19th-century paintings involves an investment of both time and money. But keep in mind that financial gain should not be the motivation for collecting art. How much a collector can afford naturally affects the types of artwork collected, but today's art market lends itself to great flexibility in terms of price range. Do not become driven by the search for bargains which may lead to the acquisition of mediocre paintings. Art is not immune to fluctuations in the economy and over the long haul, it's  much better to own a finer quality painting that costs a bit more than to have a collection full of bargain basement finds. Core aspects such as artist, subject, paint quality, light and form and condition all effect the value of a painting and should be the foundation of any collection.
"Collecting art is a very personal endeavor," explains Rau. "Don't throw good business sense out of the window, but do choose your art using your head and your heart first and then your pocketbook. You'll be happier in the long run and you will have a much finer collection." Of course, that's the beauty of 19th-century paintings. Many of the finest works remain undervalued. For instance, while the price tag on a superior Alfred de Breanski landscape may not be inconsequential, the value of such a work by one of the most respected landscape painters of that period, remains incredible. Of course, the first step in finding value in 19th-century paintings is being able to recognize quality and that, again, boils down to research and diligence. While a painting must appeal on the most basic aesthetic level, there are a few considerations that must be addressed before any deals are struck. Once a painting has been selected-step back and look at condition, provenance and authenticity.
Condition & Quality
Whenever purchasing a piece of art, especially those created decades ago, it is important to keep a close eye out for retouches or damage caused by mishandling or unprofessional restoration techniques.
Of course, restoration work, if done properly, does not necessarily decrease the value of a fine painting, in fact, it is considered part of proper care and maintenance. However, collectors should be cautious of pieces that may have been drastically "overdone" due to outdated techniques practiced in the early part of the 20th century. These early restoration methods tended to be overly aggressive and are no longer considered acceptable. Issues such as these can be avoided with the advice of a professional restorer or art dealer. Don't be afraid to insist that a painting be checked out by a professional restorer prior to purchase.
The resurgence in interest of 19th-century art has also brought with it issues that any collector must address, most notably forgeries. Aggressive authentication is standard practice when seeking out the works of Van Gogh or Rembrandt, making it far more difficult to pass off forgeries.
However, the paintings of the 19th century present a much more enticing venue for those intent on deception. The best way to avoid these pitfalls is to work with a reputable dealer. Any good dealer, auction house or gallery should have no trouble providing the necessary information to authenticate or evaluate a 19th-century painting.
Be cautious if there is no signature on the painting, but not unduly so. An unsigned painting does not automatically signal a forgery or make a painting any less authentic. Often students copied the styles and techniques of the master artist and some masters even tried to imitate their contemporaries.
Once again, the failsafe key to avoiding confusion is research and a great understanding of the particular artist's style, subject matter and technique. The opportunities for collecting solid 19th-century paintings at reasonable prices remain abundant in today's market. A collector, armed with a certain degree of knowledge and even greater enthusiasm, can go a long way in assembling a collection worthy of the effort. If recent history is any indication, fine artworks from this century should continue to post healthy gains. And, while monetary appreciation can in no way be guaranteed, the potential for upward gains remains favorable.
"Art collecting is a serious and highly rewarding journey that should be taken in stride and with a degree of diligence. But along this sometimes bumpy road, keep in mind that the true nature of art is not so much about dollars and cents but more importantly its power to inspire, give joy, and motivate an appreciation for the world around you," Rau concludes. "And at the end of the day, a beautiful work of art can be enjoyed on a more personal level every single day whether the market happens to be up or down–you can't say that about too many stock certificates." Read More »

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