Art History Lab

The Warmth of Impressionism: Delving into Renoir’s Two Sisters

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Background:

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the most well-known impressionist painters. Born in Limoges, France, in 1841, Renoir was the son of a tailor and a dressmaker.

He showed an early interest in art, and his parents encouraged him by providing him with art supplies. Renoir received some formal training in art techniques, which included studying at the cole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Despite this, he was largely self-taught and developed his own unique style.

After leaving school, Renoir began working at the porcelain factory of Levy Freres et Compagnie, where he hand-painted delicate designs onto china.

This experience helped him to develop the skills needed to paint fine details, something that would become a hallmark of his later work.

In 1862, Renoir entered the studio of Swiss artist Charles Gleyre, where he met other young artists who would become known as the Impressionists.

It was here that he first developed an interest in painting female figures, an interest that would become a major theme in his work.

Renoir’s subjects were diverse, but he is perhaps best known for his female nudes.

These paintings often show women engaged in everyday activities, such as bathing or getting dressed. They are painted in soft, warm colors and feature a play of light and shadow that is characteristic of Impressionist art.

In addition to painting women, Renoir also painted many self-portraits throughout his life. In these paintings, he often portrayed himself in a positive light, creating self-mythologizing images that projected an idealized version of himself onto the canvas.

Renoir’s most famous works include Diana, a painting of the Roman goddess of the hunt, and Luncheon of the Boating Party, a large-scale painting that depicts a group of friends enjoying lunch on a boat in the Seine.

Two Sisters (On the Terrace) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in Context:

Two Sisters (On the Terrace) is a famous painting by Renoir that depicts two young women seated on a terrace overlooking the Seine river.

The painting features warm, sun-dappled colors and is typical of Renoir’s style of painting female figures.

The location where Two Sisters was painted is the Maison Fournaise restaurant in Chatou, just outside of Paris.

The restaurant was a popular gathering place for the Impressionists, who would often come here to socialize and work on their art. Renoir was particularly fond of the location, and he painted more than 30 scenes there over the course of his career.

The Maison Fournaise was owned by Alphonse Fournaise Jr., a friend of Renoir’s who became something of a muse to the artist. Fournaise Jr. is depicted in several of Renoir’s paintings, including Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Another figure who appears in several of Renoir’s paintings is Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise, Alphonse’s daughter. Louise-Alphonsine is believed to be one of the models for Two Sisters, along with another woman named Jeanne Darlot.

In Two Sisters, Renoir captures the easy, carefree spirit of the Impressionist movement, which was centered around capturing the fleeting moment. The two young women depicted in the painting are shown in a relaxed state, enjoying each other’s company and the warm summer sun.

The painting is a testament to Renoir’s ability to capture the essence of a moment in time, and it remains one of his most popular works to this day.


In conclusion, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a prolific painter who left an indelible mark on the world of art.

His work is notable for its warm, sun-dappled colors, its playful subject matter, and its emphasis on capturing the fleeting moment. Two Sisters (On the Terrace) is a perfect example of Renoir’s style, showcasing his ability to capture the essence of a moment in time.

Through his work, Renoir continues to inspire and delight audiences around the world. Formal Analysis: A Brief Compositional Overview

Two Sisters (On the Terrace) is a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir that captures two female figures sitting on a terrace overlooking the Seine River.

The composition of the painting is crucial in conveying the impressionist style of the artwork.

Subject Matter: Visual Description

The painting features two female companions in the foreground.

The figure on the right, in a light-colored dress, interlocks her arm with the other figure, who is in a darker dress. The figures are looking out over the Seine River, providing context for their relaxed state.

There is a railing in the background of the painting that creates a sense of depth alongside the location, Maison Fournaise.


Renoir’s use of color creates a warm, sun-drenched effect that bathes his subjects in an earthy hue, making the image feel more natural and cozy. He contrasts these earthier colors with brilliant red and blue accents on the dresses, which provide a striking focal point.

There is also a deeper shade of blue-green in the background, which contrasts the bright colors of the foreground. The color contrast creates an enlivening effect to the overall composition.


As we move further from the foreground, the texture becomes looser, representing a freer natural environment of the Seine River. Renoir captures the choppy, short, and thick strokes of the water in the background with denser and closely knitted strokes, resulting in the clothes.

The clothes’ texture contrasts with that of the sea, creating an engaging visual contrast between the two subject matters.


The painting’s line work is natural and organic, consisting mostly of curved and curling lines that create a soft and rounded form. The figures intertwining arm, rounded shoulders, and curved forms provide a contrast to the painting’s more structured background and railing.

A vertical line created by the railing divides the painting into symmetrical halves effectively.

Shape and Form

Renoir uses asymmetrical and curved shapes to create freer-flowing, naturalistic shapes to convey the impressionist style. The figures’ organic forms contrast with the recognizable shapes of the background elements such as the symmetrical ornamented railing and the naturalistic wave patterns.


In the foreground, the figures and objects appear larger, providing an exaggerated sense of space to the viewer. The background, however, appears compressed and smaller, conveying depth.

The railing further contrasts the foreground and background spaces, with natural lines that lead the viewer’s eye from one corner of the painting to the other, creating a sense of space and openness. Exploring Renoir’s Favorite Spot:

The Maison Fournaise was a popular spot for dining, leisure, and entertainment in the late 19th century.

Renoir painted more than 30 scenes here, with Two Sisters (On the Terrace) being one of the most renowned. The restaurant allowed Renoir to explore the different facets of impressionism as a movement, such as the use of color, composition, and texture.


The Maison Fournaise was a location of immense value for Renoir. It not only allowed him to expand his techniques, but it also provided him with a place of leisure for its patrons.

The restaurant marked the end of the industrial revolution’s transformation of Paris into a bustling city. It allowed residents to experience an idyllic environment and become one with nature.

End of Analysis

In conclusion, Renoir’s Two Sisters (On the Terrace) is a masterwork that effectively incorporates the elements of impressionism for which Renoir is highly regarded. His expert use of color, line, shape, and space, combined with his subject matter expertise, creates a warm and inviting painting that is reminiscent of leisure time at the Maison Fournaise.

Renoir’s painting depicts a brief moment in time and makes a lasting impression on his viewers, standing the test of time as a valuable artistic expression. Frequently Asked Questions:

Understanding the history and background of famous works of art can be an exciting way to delve deeper into the meaning and appeal of an artwork.

Here, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Two Sisters (On the Terrace) painting. Painting Authorship and Titles:

Who painted Two Sisters (On the Terrace), and what is its formal title?

Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted Two Sisters (On the Terrace). Its formal title, translated from French, is Les Deux Surs, or The Two Sisters.

The painting also goes by the title Two Sisters, On the Terrace. Location of the Painting:

Where can I see the painting in person?

The painting is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. The painting has been in the Art Institute since the museum’s founding in the late 19th century and has been a part of the museum’s permanent collection ever since.



How much is Two Sisters (On the Terrace) worth, and how has its value changed over time? Two Sisters (On the Terrace) has been considered an incredibly valuable work of art since its creation, and its value has only increased over time.

In the late 1800s, the painting was purchased by American collector Annie Swan Coburn for $1,000. She was one of the patrons who helped bring Impressionism to America, introducing Renoir’s work to American audiences.

In the early 20th century, the painting was purchased by the French dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who helped bring Impressionism to prominence in Europe. He sold the painting for $10,000, a significant increase on its original price, to American collector Potter Palmer.

The painting has exchanged ownership several times since then, with its value increasing significantly each time. In 1980, the painting was purchased by a Japanese collector for $7 million, at the time, the highest price ever paid for a Renoir painting.

In 2013, another Japanese collector purchased Two Sisters (On the Terrace) at auction for $32 million, making it one of the most expensive Renoir paintings ever sold.

So the value of the painting has clearly increased dramatically since it was first created, cementing its place as one of the most valuable and sought-after Impressionist paintings of all time.


Overall, the history and background of Two Sisters (On the Terrace) offer fascinating insights into the art world of the late 19th century. Renoir’s masterpiece captures the warmth, joy, and romantic beauty of life in the Impressionist era, making it an important and valuable work of art.

Its continued popularity today is a testament to the enduring appeal of the Impressionist style and the skillful execution of one of its most famous practitioners. In conclusion, the article explored the background of Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his famous painting Two Sisters (On the Terrace).

Renoir’s artistic pursuits and education, combined with his love for depicting female figures, self-portraits, and notable works like Diana and Luncheon of the Boating Party, shaped his unique style. The analysis discussed the composition of Two Sisters, highlighting its visual elements such as subject matter, color, texture, line, shape, and space.

Additionally, the article shed light on the significance of the Maison Fournaise and the value of the painting in the art world. The enduring popularity and increasing value of the artwork emphasize its importance in art history.

Renoir continues to captivate audiences, leaving us with a lasting impression of his skill and the vibrant spirit of the Impressionist movement.

Popular Posts