On the Shore of the Seine
Pierre Auguste Renoir. On the Shore of the Seine. c. 1879. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Saidie A. May Bequest, Courtesy of the Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, BMA 2014.1
Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted "On the Shore of the Seine" around 1879, when he and his Impressionist colleagues were actively trying to capture the momentary effects of light, color, and atmosphere on their canvases. During this period, Renoir spent a great deal of time frequenting sites along the River Seine on the outskirts of Paris, searching for interesting motifs and opportunities to depict the delights of nature and the pleasures of spending time outdoors. With its bright color and expressive brushwork, "On the Shore of the Seine" is a wonderful example of the artist’s high Impressionist style and technique. Close examination reveals the landscape was painted on a type of linen damask cloth consistent with table linens from this period. This discovery lends credence to the story that Renoir might have painted this diminutive landscape on a linen napkin at a restaurant along the river.
In November 1925, while on vacation in Europe, Saidie and Herbert May purchased "On the Shore of the Seine" from the Parisian art gallery Bernheim-Jeune. After making their acquisition in 1925, the Mays displayed the painting in their New York apartment. Saidie May kept the work after their divorce, and in 1937, sent it to The Baltimore Museum of Art on long-term loan. Upon her death in May 1951, the painting entered the Museum’s collection as part of Saidie May’s bequest.
In November 1951, it was stolen from the Museum while on display, reappearing more than sixty years later at an auction house in Alexandria, Virginia. Details about the theft remain a mystery. We are delighted to welcome it back to the Museum, reuniting it with many of the other wonderful works from the Saidie May collection.