Every artist, every person, needs opportunities to experiment and room to grow.
For Renoir, painting flowers was that opportunity: he could experiment, work differently, try new ideas.
“When I paint flowers, I feel free to try out tones and values and worry less about destroying the canvas,” he told the writer Georges Rivière. “I would not do this with a figure painting since there I would care about destroying the work.” (quote from the MetMuseum)
This is one of those paintings of flowers, and it is a study in contrasts. We see combinations of dark and light, warmth and coolness, texture and smoothness.
The composition looks formal, centered. The flowers are impressionistic, shapes and petals and the interplay of light and dark suggested with strokes of warm color. If you look closely you can see the different colors that, together, create the dense surfaces of the lighter shelf beneath and darker wall behind the flowers. The glossy-looking surface of the vase that holds those flowers, the precise curve of its side, contrast with the softness of the rest of the painting.
It’s a beautiful painting – but then if it had been a failure chances are we would not be looking at it now. I wonder what his failures, the paintings he would have destroyed, looked like? In the end it doesn’t matter – what matters is what he learned along the way.
What we do see is the sense the freedom that comes with worrying less “about destroying the canvas”. It is a freedom that everyone needs from time to time.
Wishing you the freedom and the room you need to try new things, learn, and grow.