Renoir. Compositions with Stairs. From the Revived Masterpieces series
26 May 2009, the State Hermitage Museum (the Winter Palace,
the Apollo Room, No. 260) opened the first exhibition from the cycle
Restored Masterpieces dedicated to the work of restorers.
The exhibition will feature two restored paintings
The pair paintings Man on a Staircase and Woman
on a Staircase belong to the most unusual paintings
by Auguste Renoir
The purpose of the compositions with the staircase was to present the generalized images of the contemporary Parisians. The model for the 'male' painting was Renoir’s brother Edmond. The model for the female painting, according to Georges Riviere, a friend of the painter, was 'some beautiful big girl who Renoir found once on Pigale Square'. It still remains unknown who she was. The compositions presupposed that the characters should have a direct connection with the house of Charpentier. Renoir tried to underline it reproducing not only the main staircase of the mansion, but also such 'characteristic' feature as a Japanese fan. The interest towards Japanese art was shared both by the lady of the house and the impressionists.
Apparently, in the second half of the
After the inclusion in the Hermitage exhibition in 1995 the necessity of taking off the foreign layers became evident. The restoration of the canvases, that took more than a year, was performed by one of the best restorers of the museum Valeriy Brovkin, which eventually gave a magnificent result: he managed to reveal the initial brilliancy of the painting by Renoir. He 'gave a new birth' not only to the pure tones, but also to the light that spiritualizes the colours of the paintings in a special way. Alongside with the arabesques of the staircase rails, this light coming out of the depth is yet another feature uniting the two canvases.
The curator of the exhibition and the author of the booklet (published by the State Hermitage) is Albert Kostenevich, Doctor of Sciences in Art, senior staff member of the Department of Western European Art.