OIL PAINTING: Girl with a Hoop, 1885
One of Renoir's early portraits, Girl with a Hoop, has all the tender charm of its subject, delicately unemphasized, not sentimentalized, but clearly relished. Renoir stoops down to the child's height so that we look at her world from her own altitude. This, Renoir hints, is the world that the little one sees - not the actual garden that adults see today, but the nostalgic garden that they remember from their childhood. The child is sweetly aware of her central importance. Solid little girl though she is, she presents herself with the fragile charm of the flowers. Her sturdy little feet in their sensible boots are somehow planted in the garden, and the lace of her dress has a floral rightness; she also is decorative. With the greatest skill, Renoir shows the child, not amid the actual flowers and lawns, but on the path. It leads away, out of the painting, into the unknown future when she will longer be part of the garden but an onlooker, an adult, who will enjoy only her memories of the present now depicted.