My Favourite Painting: Paul Chesney

Paul Chesney of Chesneys Fireplaces chooses a classic Renoir.

Paul Chesney on Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet, Guernsey by Renoir

‘I love impressionist paintings and this one has a personal connection for me because I grew up on the island of Guernsey and swam in Moulin Huet Bay as a child. The painting is a view of the bay, seen from the cliffs above. The palette that Renoir uses perfectly captures the rich mix of colour that the cliffs in Guernsey are rendered in, especially in high summer. We have showrooms close to The Metropolitan Museum in New York and I try to visit the museum when I’m there — which was how I first came across this painting in the Annenberg Galleries.’

Paul Chesney is the founder and managing director of Chesneys Fireplaces

Charlotte Mullins on Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet

In this painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir from 1883 a soft light falls on the picturesque bay of Moulin Huet, a horseshoe of rugged coastal beauty in Guernsey. Renoir’s soft feathery brushstrokes and pure colours suggest hillsides rich in vegetation while a bright sky mirrors the turquoise sea. A thin curl of green and white marks out the water’s edge as waves break beneath volcanic cliffs.

Renoir spent more than a month in the island’s capital Saint Peter Port in September and October 1883 and carried his canvases and paints along coastal paths to sketch en plein-air. He painted 15 works when he was there, all of Moulin Huet Bay. Several were from this high vantage point and others show men, women and children on the beach, paddling in the shallows. Four paintings, including this one, were offered to his dealer Paul Durand-Ruel with whom he corresponded during his stay. Renoir travelled widely in the 1880s, visiting Italy, Spain, Holland, England and Algeria.

One of the leading artists of the eight Impressionist exhibitions held in Paris from 1874 to 1886, Renoir breathed life and light into everything he painted.

In Hills around the Bay of Moulin Huet, Guernsey we feel the heat of the sun on the foliage and the breeze herding clouds along the horizon. We taste the tang of salt in the air and hear the distant rumble of the surf.

While his style can appear sketchy, his brushstrokes visible, Renoir captures the energy, light and vitality of each scene he paints.


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