This painting, newly acquired through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme allowing works of art to be given in lieu of tax liabilities, has been rediscovered. The English Pear Tree or Orchard at Louveciennes has not been on show to the public since 1938 and it was known only through an old photograph.
Renoir certainly painted this landscape directly from nature in the vicinity of Louveciennes. He sought to convey the effects of light and atmosphere through loose, airy brushwork.
Although regarded primarily as a painter of the human figure, Renoir did not ignore the landscape. Following Pissarro’s example, he animated this scene with figures of peasants at work, far-removed from the elegant strolling figures often found in both his and Monet’s works in the 1870s.
With its treatment of colour and light, and the freedom and lightness of brushwork, enhanced by recent restoration, this painting is emblematic of lmpressionism in the crucial period around the group’s first exhibition in 1874.
Woman in a Walled Garden [La Dame au jardin clos] is one of a series of paintings by Maurice Denis on the subject of waiting for love and the consecration of marriage, painted between 1892-1894 when he first fell in love with Marthe Meurier, whom he married on 12 June 1893.
It is In fact a reflection on what Denis considered to be “the object of our greatest efforts”, the "reconciliation" of flesh and spirit, of art and life, and is both a personal theme of Denis and a summary of his aesthetic.
This painting has no equivalent in the Musée d'Orsay collections, which contain no Symbolist nudes by Denis, and it demonstrates an aspect of his work rarely seen in French public collections.
From 1891 until the end of his life, Paul Ranson produced a series of esoteric works in which the figure of the sorceress appears regularly. Surrounded by cabalistic symbols and shadow play, this Sorceress and the Black Cat, remains mysterious. We do not know if the shapes surrounding her represent her malevolent powers, or if she is plagued by nightmares. The composition corresponds perfectly with the aesthetic principles of the Nabis - arabesques, thick outlines, areas of flat colour, synthetism – and reflects the group’s interest in decorative forms.
In the first painting, Stuck seizes on a famous episode from the Bible, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, that he represents in a stark composition highlighting the human emotions. Typical of Symbolism at the end of the 19th century in its sophistication and its moral dimension, Expulsion from Paradise is also an important milestone in the history of contemporary art, as it inspired Vassily Kandinsky, a pupil of Stuck in the early 20th century, in his Study for Improvisation 8 (1909), one of the stages that would lead him towards abstraction.