London Renoir exhibition to focus on landscapes

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The Independent Online

Steve Wynn, the millionaire American art collector who put his elbow through his £74m Picasso, is lending another of his works to a new blockbuster show on Renoir in London.

The National Gallery will borrow Le Jardin d'Essai à Alger (The Test Gardens) from Mr Wynn's Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas for its exhibition on Pierre-Auguste Renoir's landscapes next year. The work is one of several important loans to the exhibition, which will bring together around 70 paintings to show how between 1865 and 1883 the young artist used landscapes to experiment.

Although he is best known for scenes of Parisian life such as La Moulin de la Galette and chocolate-box pictures of children and young women, his landscapes were innovative explorations of colour and brushstroke. They were nearly all created in the first two decades of his career, before he began to concentrate on figure painting.

The National Gallery exhibition, the first major show on the artist in Britain for more than 20 years, will be the first to focus on landscapes. Nancy Ireson, the curator, said: "It's part of Renoir's oeuvre that really hasn't been explored before. It's a chance to discover and re-discover a very exciting artist." Renoir attempted to become an Impressionist - then the shunned outsiders - although he was capable of painting in the established style of the Paris Salon where he had been accepted as an exhibitor.

The exhibition will include impressionist images of social scenes in the Parisian suburbs such as Monet painting in his Garden in Argenteuil as well as pictures produced in places he visited, including Venice and Algiers.

Among them is The Bay of Naples (Morning) which was previously believed to be an evening scene but has been re-named, with the agreement of the Metropolitan Museum in New York which owns it, after experts consulted maps and concluded it was a rising, not setting sun.

His visit to Guernsey in 1883 resulted in landscapes which were the last of this period of innovation. "At that moment, Renoir, having looked at all the options, became determined to produce works in a certain way. The experimentation is over and he becomes more sure in his ways," Dr Ireson said.

Mr Wynn elbowed a hole in Picasso's Le Reve as he showed it to guests in his office last month. He has dropped plans to sell the work.

'Renoir Landscapes 1865-1883', sponsored by Ernst and Young, will run from 21 February to 20 May 2007. Admission £12

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