Impressionism and the French Art of the Eighteenth Century

2 March to 19 June 2022

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the outstanding painters of French Impressionism – and far more than that. For the first time the Städel Museum adressed the surprising references in his art to Rococo painting in a large-scale special exhibition. Whereas Rococo painting was considered frivolous and immoral after the French Revolution, it underwent a revival in the nineteenth century and was widely visible in Renoir’s lifetime. Having trained as a porcelain painter, he was also intimately acquainted with the imagery of artists such as Antoine Watteau, Baptiste Siméon Chardin, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. He shared the Rococo’s predilection for certain subjects, among them promenaders in the park and on the riverbank, moments of repose in the outdoors, and the garden party. Renoir also frequently devoted himself to the depiction of domestic scenes and family life as well as intimate moments such as bathing, reading or making music. Yet he not only took orientation from the motifs of the Rococo, but also particularly admired its loose and sketchy manner of painting as well as its brilliant palette, aspects that would have a formative influence on him and many other artists in the Impressionist circle.

Trenchant juxtapositions of Renoir’s art with works of the eighteenth century as well as his own contemporaries – Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot – provided an overview of Impressionism’s intense artistic examination of the Rococo.

The exhibition showed a total of some 120 outstanding paintings, works on paper and handcrafted objects from international museums such as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, as well as private collections.

Curators: Dr. Alexander Eiling (Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum), Dr. Juliane Betz (Deputy Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum), Dr. Fabienne Ruppen (Associate Curator, Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Sponsored by: Savings Banks Finance Group with Deutsche Leasing AG, Frankfurter Sparkasse and Savings Banks Cultural Fund of the German Savings Banks Association, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V. with the STÄDELFREUNDE 1815, Dagmar-Westberg-Stiftung
Media partner: hr – Hessischer Rundfunk, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, ARTE

Missed the exhibition?

Find out everything worth knowing about “RENOIR. ROCOCO REVIVAL”!

To the digitorial