National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Diana Auguste Renoir (artist)
French, 1841 - 1919
Diana, 1867
oil on canvas
overall: 199.5 x 129.5 cm (78 9/16 x 51 in.) framed: 222.6 x 159.1 cm (87 5/8 x 62 5/8 in.)
Chester Dale Collection
1963.10.205
Not on View
From the Tour: Mary Cassatt, Auguste Renoir
Object 4 of 7

Renoir wrote that he had produced this painting as a study of a nude, the sort of exercise that was a mainstay of the academic tradition of painting from a posed model in the studio. Notice, for example, that the woman's foot rests on an elevated perch, and that a prop relieves the strain of her raised arms. Such devices were necessary for a model to maintain her pose. This model, though, is Lise Tréhot, the artist's mistress, and in the end, as Renoir admitted, "the picture was considered pretty improper." He said he added the bow, the dead animal, and the deerskin to transform Lise into Diana, the ancient goddess of the hunt, whose voluptuous nudity would be more acceptable to a Salon jury than that of a real woman. However, the painting was rejected by the Salon in 1867, its portrayal perhaps too close to that of a real, flesh–and–blood woman than to a classical mythological heroine.

The picture's style shows the influence of realist painter Gustave Courbet in the particular attention given to the blood coming from the animal's mouth and the mossy surfaces of the rocks. This is one of the few times Renoir used a palette knife to apply his pigments—a favorite technique of Courbet. However, in the greens of the animal skin and the red accent we see Renoir's own preference for the bright, luminous colors that would distinguish his impressionist pictures only a few years later.

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