La Toilette, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, captures an intimate moment between two ladies of leisure. One woman is gracefully seated in a velvet chair—a Victorian chaise lounge spotted in the background—as the other woman stands, gingerly affixing an ornament to the seated woman’s hair. The colors are warm and pleasing shades of peach, apricot, pink, and opal to suggest light and movement. Short, broken brushstrokes intersect to compose the bold contours of the female figures and the room décor.
Renoir was among the rebellious painters known as the Impressionists, famed for being shunned by art academies and developing their own vibrant and provocative techniques to capture scenes of metropolitan life; Renoir was one of the movement’s most popular artists. He was known for his brilliant eye for capturing scenes of domesticity and the day’s fashions. His images of well-dressed, middle-class Parisian families, as seen here, helped to define the modern era of the late nineteenth century in Europe.