Thank you to Joy of Museums for this delightful discussion of this painting and insight into the life of Renoir.
Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts the upper terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a family restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting shows a young woman and her younger girl seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. In the background over the railings of the terrace, are flowering plants and vines and then the River Seine with boats and some buildings in the top left on the other side of the river.
Renoir painted this delightful scene as a homage to springtime in 1881, and he or his art dealer called it “Two Sisters” (French: Les Deux Sœurs), its alternative title “On the Terrace” (French: Sur la terrasse) was used by the first owner of the painting. Jeanne Darlot (1863—1914), a future actress who was 18 years old when she posed for the elder sister. The identity of who represented the younger sister is not known as they were not real sisters. Before working on Two Sisters, Renoir worked in this particular location on another well-known painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.
The Maison Fournaise is today a restaurant and museum located on Impressionist Island on the Seine in Chatou, west of Paris. In 1857, Alphonse Fournaise bought land in Chatou to open a boat rental, restaurant, and small hotel for the new tourist trade.
The family restaurant was a favourite of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who painted many scenes of the restaurant and from the restaurant as well several portraits of Fournaise family members and many landscapes of the surrounding area. In 1880, Renoir wrote to a friend:
“My painting detains me in Chatou. Be kind enough to come and have lunch with me.
You won’t regret your trip; this is the loveliest place in the surroundings of Paris.”
The Maison Fournaise museum’s collection is focused on the history of the house and the golden age of the banks of the Seine. It also holds exhibitions around contemporary artistic movements from the Impressionist era.