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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
  • Signed and dated 1892 (lower right); signed, titled and dated en verso; Oil on canvas
  • Canvas: 31 7/8" high x 36 1/4" wide Frame: 39 1/4 high x 45 1/8 wide

Item Details

  • Width:
    C:36 1/4" F:45 1/8" Inches
  • Height:
    C:31 7/8" F:39 1/4" Inches
  • Period:
    19th Century
  • Origin:
    Other
  • Subject:
    Children
  • 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

Provenance:
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

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