Lise Sewing By Renoir
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"Lise Sewing" stands out in Renoir's numerous paintings not only because of its small size but because of its treatment of its subject. Nearly all of Renoir's paintings are paintings of persons. He did only a few nature paintings or paintings of houses, buildings, and other man-made structures. In nearly all of Renoir's many paintings of individuals, the subject is given a different relationship with the viewer than in "Lise Sewing." In many cases, the subject is obviously posed, thought the pose is natural, not formal. Renoir was a painter at the end of the 19th century who along with the Impressionists and other innovative painters, attempted to break out of the formal, academic mode that dominated French painting. Even when posed, the subject has an openness, which establishes its relationship with the viewer. This openness is attained not by any gesture or behavior of the subject nor even by a "personality" Renoir attempts to capture. The openness is attained by Renoir's use of color-roseate colors, almost pastel in tone-and by the shapes and contours of the paintings.
In "Lise Sewing," the model is treated differently.
- She is not really posed at all; rather, Lise Sewing is pictured concentrating on her task of sewing a button on a garment.
- The garment is held about chest high, up toward her eyes where she can closely see and control what she is doing.
- With her hands at this height, her shoulders are correspondingly raised slightly; so they have a different angle than persons' shoulders in most of Renoir's other paintings.
- The viewer sees only half of the face of the young model. In nearly all of Renoir's pictures of a single person, the whole face is shown.
- Even in Renoir's paintings of groups or crowds, there is ordinarily one or a few persons who are looking out from the painting, usually with lively expressions on their faces even if they are not meant to be looking right at the viewer.
In some cases, a person in a painting has a mischievous look that seems to be inviting the viewer into the picture. This is one of Renoir's customary techniques for creating a relationship between the viewer and a painting of his.