Renoir once told a friend “painting flowers rests my brain. . . . I place my colors and experiment with values boldly, without worrying about spoiling a canvas.” In this still life, vibrant reds and pinks stand out against the dark background and cast blue shadows across the white tablecloth. Using thin washes and strokes of thicker paint, the artist has captured the peonies’ sumptuous colors and the delicate textures of their petals and leaves.


The artist, sold to Durand-Ruel, 6 Jan. 1881; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, from 1881]; Potter Palmer, Chicago (by 1892–d. 1902); Bertha Honoré Palmer, Chicago, his wife, by descent (1902–d. 1918); [Howard Young Galleries, New York, c. 1922]; Annie Swan Coburn, Chicago (d. 1932); The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection (1933–42); [Knoedler, New York; sold to Clark, 31 Jan. 1942]; Robert Sterling Clark (1942–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

French, 1841–1919


c. 1880

Oil on canvas

21 3/4 x 25 7/8 in. (55.3 x 65.7 cm) Frame: 32 x 35 13/16 in. (81.3 x 91 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1942