In the 1880s Pierre-Auguste Renoir sought to move his art beyond Impressionism and to forge a link between modern art and the classical tradition of French painting, represented for him by such great painters and sculptors of the past as Jean Goujon, François Girardon, and Nicolas Poussin. The result was this large-scale composition of nude bathers, which occupied much of his attention for some three years and was preceded by numerous preparatory studies. Using as his source a bas-relief by the seventeenth-century sculptor Girardon in the garden of Versailles, he executed a perfectly still, carefully composed grouping of monumental figures. Although the theme of nude bathers would stay with Renoir throughout his career, some of his Impressionist colleagues thought that with this work he had betrayed the cause of modernist painting by retreating to classicism. Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 200
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