OIL PAINTING: Diana, 1867
The 1867 panel of the Salon were
particularly harsh with Renoir and rejected his Diana.
Renoir had painted a beautifully accurate nude, without the coarseness of Courbet's Bather 14 years before, which had been scornfully rejected as a 'Hottentot Venus'. In fact, his Diana looked far more healthy and
realistic than - as Zola put it - the pampered, lustful nudes, powdered with rice flour, of the fashionable painters of that time.
So Renoir draped a loincloth of fur round his nude and also added a bow and a freshly killed deer, changing her into the ancient goddess of hunting. This concession to the Salon's academic partiality towards mythological themes, however, did not save his painting from being
rejected. There was going to be a world exhibition in Paris that year, and the panel wanted to present an image of French art that was
'without a blemish'.