La Vie en Rose

The work of Renoir's later years is a bit too scrumptious for modern taste. A new show insists we're missing the point

Granger Collection

Renoir in 1885, after his turn away from Impressionism

Some artists go out in a blaze of glory. Titian is an obvious example: his dark, sketchy late work would be influential for centuries. Van Gogh is another: The Starry Night was produced by a man who would take his own life the following year. Pierre-Auguste Renoir went out in a blaze of kitsch. At least, that's the received opinion about the work of his final decades: all those pillowy nudes, sunning their abundant selves in dappled glades; all those peachy girls, strumming guitars and idling in bourgeois parlors; all that pink. In the long twilight of his career, the old...

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