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Art & Design

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Young Shepherd in Repose (Portrait of Alexander Thurneyssen), 1911, Museum Works of Art Fund

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Young Shepherd in Repose (Portrait of Alexander Thurneyssen)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
French, 1841-1919
Young Shepherd in Repose (Portrait of Alexander Thurneyssen)
Oil on canvas
73 x 91.1 cm (28 3/4 x 35 7/8 inches)
Museum Works of Art Fund 45.199

In the last of four family portraits commissioned by a wealthy German industrialist, Renoir depicted his patron’s twelve-year old son, Alexander Thurneyssen, as a young shepherd reclining in a field of flowers. Dressed in a sheepskin tunic, his auburn curls covered by a straw hat, he holds a musical pipe in one hand and invites songbirds to perch on the other. His pose was loosely adapted from that of the Greek god Dionysius on the Parthenon frieze, an indication of Renoir’s lasting fascination for classical sculpture. Both figure and landscape are warmed by a luxuriant, rosy palette and are painted with fluid strokes applied in thin layers. Although Alexander visited Renoir’s Paris studio for the initial sittings, it is thought that the artist’s cook, Gabrielle, also served as a model for the portrait

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