Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Les Baigneuses au crabe, I (Bathers Playing with a Crab, I), c.1897-1900

Signed Pierre-Auguste Renoir artwork, Les Baigneuses au crabe, I (Bathers Playing with a Crab, I), c.1897-1900

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Artist:Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919)

Title:Les Baigneuses au crabe, I (Bathers Playing with a Crab, I), c.1897-1900

Medium:Pastel counterproof on Japan paper laid on buff paper

Image Size:27 1/2 in x 21 in (69.9 cm x 53.3 cm)

Sheet Size:27 1/2 in x 21 in (69.9 cm x 53.3 cm)

Framed Size:36 7/16 in x 30 5/8 in (92.6 cm x 77.8 cm)

Signature:This work is signed with the counterproof signature in reverse in the lower right.

Condition:This work is in excellent condition.

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Historical Description of this artwork

In this delicate and ethereal artwork from notable impressionist Renoir Les Baigneuses au crabe (Bathers Playing with a Crab), c. 1897-1900 revisits one of the artist’s most beloved themes, the female bathers. This classical motif of women became Renoir’s primary subject matter after viewing Italian Renaissance paintings in 1881. Featuring voluminous figures, and the impressionist’s signature loose, gestural style, Renoir Les Baigneuses au crabe (Bathers Playing with a Crab), c. 1897-1900 embraces the softness of femininity.

In whispering lines and faint pastel colors, the impressions of three nude women take shape.  Composed in blurry shadows of warm hues, the women are drawn with indistinguishable faces. Still their story is apparent through expressive poses and the overall girlish tone. At the center a blonde woman elegantly reclines in an odalisque pose with her back turned away from the viewer. To her left, we see another woman sitting quaintly.  To her right, a friend childishly taunts the blonde woman. The friend with long brown hair kneels in front, facing the blonde woman, presenting the crab as a mischievous gift. The delightful and rare pastel counterproof embodies an innocence of friendship with a playful spirit, while delivering a graceful composition.

Created c. 1897-1900, this pastel counterproof on Japan paper laid on buff paper is signed with the counterproof signature in reverse in the lower right.

A counterproof is created when a damp sheet of paper is placed over a chalk or pastel drawing or a recently pulled print and pressure is applied, either by hand-rubbing or running the sheets through a printing press. A mirror image of the pastel is transferred onto the second sheet of paper, while the pastel itself appears essentially unchanged.


Renoir Bathers Playing with a Crab, I (Les Baigneuses au crabe, I), c. 1897-1900 is fully documented and referenced in the below catalogue raisonnés and texts (copies will be enclosed as added documentation with the invoices that will accompany the sale of the work):

1. Adelson, Warren. Renoir: The Pastel Counterproofs, Exhibition Catalog, New York: Adelsen Galleries, 2007. Another example is listed and illustrated no. 31.

2. Vollard, Ambroise. Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Paintings, Pastels, and Drawings . New York: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1989. This work is the counterproof (second transfer) of the pastel listed and illustrated as catalogue raisonné no. 73.

3. A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany this artwork.

Framed to museum-grade, conservation standards Renoir Bathers Playing with a Crab, I (Les Baigneuses au crabe, I),  c. 1897-1900 is presented in a complementary moulding and finished with silk-wrapped mats and optical grade Plexiglas.

What Do I Get With My Purchase?

The Certificate of Authenticity accompanies this work, guaranteeing its authenticity for as long as you own it.

All catalogue raisonné and historical documentation is included with your purchase.

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Why Renoir?

Auguste Renoir's characteristic brushstroke and artistry show through in his original etchings. His colorful lithographs, prints and paintings show Louis Valtat, the Dance in the Country, and women bathing. Renoir's romantic and light-hearted style, his nudes and flowers, will please any collector.

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Artistic Styles of Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Complete Biography

News About Renoir

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Biography

French painter born in Limoges, died in Cagnes. He was the son of a tailor. In 1845 his family moved to Paris. Between 1856 and 1859 he took an apprenticeship and then worked as a porcelain painter, also taking evening classes in drawing. Renoir then studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He was a fellow student of Monet, Sisley and Bazille; he went on summer painting trips with them to Chailly and Fountainbleau. He studied the eighteenth century paintings in the Louvre and also met Corot, Millet and Diaz. In 1864 his work was first accepted at the Salon. During the 1870s he painted with Monet at Argenteuil and elsewhere, and came to know Cezanne, Degas, and Pissarro. In 1874 his work was included in the first Impressionist exhibition (and in three of the subsequent seven.) He had little public success but was patronized by Caillebotte, Chocquet and others. From the late 1870s on he enjoyed increased success at the Salons, especially with portraiture. Eventually, he became dissatisfied with Impressionism and felt renewed admiration for Ingres, Raphael and eighteenth-century art. During the 1880s he worked increasingly in the south of France. Renoir’s early work as a porcelain painter reflects two constant characteristics of his art: an enormous natural facility and a dedication to eighteenth century standards of decoration and craftsmanship. Apart from the personality of his brushwork, the main distinction of his 1870s Impressionism was his preoccupation with the figure as subject matter and particularly with the gay vitality of Parisian life. Less rigorously introspective than Monet, he made his reputation at the Salons from the late 1870s with a series of fashionable portraits. Here his dexterity was combined with anecdotal charm. Many of Renoir’s sculptures he made at the end of his life are direct transpositions of painted motifs. These were largely made by an assistant (a pupil of Maillol), because of his crippling arthritis.¹ Renoir also used a moving canvas to facilitate painting with his limited mobility.

¹ Phaidon Dictionary of Twentieth Century Art.

Renoir Prints

During the second half of the nineteenth century, France was experiencing a printmaking Renaissance. Despite this artistic trend, Impressionists were not quick to adopt the medium as they were accustomed to painting in plen air. However, Renoir was quick to learn the medium, creating his first etching in 1890 and his first lithograph two years later. During this time, Renoir was 49 and already an established painter. Yet, he executed a total of 59 prints in his lifetime, producing almost equal amounts of lithographs and etchings. Renoir’s etchings were never printed in suites or published in portfolios. Instead, he created them through commissions by friends and publishers as frontispieces or illustrations for books. Impressively, Renoir was able to develop his own style of etching independent of his development as a painter.

Renoir Paintings

Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colors. He primarily painted candid portraiture and the nude female figure. In each case, his paintings demonstrate free strokes of color through which figures fuse with each other and their surroundings. His best known for his painting Bal au moulin de la Galette ( Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette), 1876 which depicts an open-air scene in which crowds of people at a popular dance garden near where he lived. This iconic painting was sold for $78.1 million at an auction in 1990. In the mid to late 1880’s Renoir gravitated towards figure drawings. The monumental work from this period is Grandes Baigneuses (The Large Bathers), 1884-87. The figures of this painting have a sculptural quality whereas the landscape is representative of impressionism. It is clear Renoir intended to reconcile the modern style of painting with classical painting traditions from the 17th and 18th centuries.

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