The Swing Barnes (14) by rverc

Renoir: Father and Son / Painting and Cinema Until September 3, 2018

Pierre–Auguste Renoir French 1841 – 1919

The Swing , 1876
Oil on canvas

The Swing is often cited as an inspiration for A Day in the Country. In a signature scene in the film, Jean transforms Pierre-Auguste’s still image into a dizzying and exhilarating sequence that celebrates the possibilities of moving pictures. Note how the bows running down the young woman’s dress in the painting migrate to the dress of the mother character in the film, signaling Jean’s deliberate invocation and inversion of his father’s work.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Gustave Caillebotte Bequest, 1894
From the Placard: Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA.

Opening Sequence:
A Day in the Country

The film that may best encapsulate the connections between Jean’s approach to cinema and his father’s approach to painting is A Day in the Country. Shot in 1936 but not released until 1946, the film is based on a short story by French writer Guy de Maupassant from 1881, precisely when Pierre-Auguste was painting boating parties and rowers. Both are central motifs in the text and the movie

A Day in the Country was shot on the banks of the Loing river, south of Paris. In the 1860s, Pierre-Auguste had painted in the nearby village of Marlotte, where Jean later bought a house and conceived the project. The filmmaker’s intimate connection to the site was further enhanced by the people involved with the film. Jean’s son, Alain, and partner Marguerite Houllé appear in the movie, and his nephew Claude was the cinematographer.

The Loing was also the site of numerous impressionist landscapes, including those of Alfred Sisley. The impressionists and Jean shared an interest in the shimmering reflection of light on water as well as the importance of the river as a symbol. The painting most associated with A Day in the Country, however is Pierre-Auguste’s The Swing ( 1876 ). The films signature scene, showing Henriette swinging with glee as two men watch her, is a tantalizing evocation and the departure from the painting.

From the Placard: Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA.…

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