Girl Wiping Her Feet - by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir's "rainbow palette" is seen to perfection in this plate and the one following: his unique and rich orchestration of the whole gamut of colors. The mellow lushness, the range in any given area, from the most delicate yellowish nuances, through varied reds, greens, and blues, is something which no other artist has ever given us. One hardly thinks of pigment substance; the effect is rather of gorgeous, modulated light. And yet the quiet activity of the brush creates animation such as we sense when alone with the living things of nature.

In the midst of this Arcadian scene, on the banks of a curving brook, Renoir has placed a creature, ripe and full, aglow with animal health and the beauty of the flesh; without reservation his brush rejoices in the womanliness of his model. So the shepherdesses of classical literature must have looked.

Renoir's instinct for pictorial quality is seen in the way he takes an utterly natural pose, a most insignificant act, and dignifies it, gives it grandeur, and then climaxes it with the sweet unclouded expression of the face. The disarray of the garments, hinting at the delicious charms of the girl's body, is the poetic invention of a master.

The props are all familiar: we have seen this model in other pictures, a similar hat is worn by the girl in the painting Girl with a Straw Hat, her garments are commonplace enough; and yet in all the variations the canvases are fresh and enchanting. A curious thing about this picture is the feeling of bigness Renoir suggests; actually, the canvas is quite small.