Pierre-Auguste Renoir's painting Onions, at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, was painted in Naples in 1881. Renoir went to Italy in part to see the art of the Renaissance, especially the frescoes of Raphael. Onions is his response to frescoes, but not Raphael's. Instead, he was energized by seeing frescoes from Pompeii and Herculaneum that he saw installed in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Renoir's painting also is testimony to his difficulty in finding suitable models from whom to paint. A comparison is made with John Singer Sargent's contemporaneous paintings of onion sellers.
fronia e. wissman received her Ph.D. in art history from Yale University for a dissertation on the public pictures of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. She earns her living as a freelance editor, particularly of exhibition and collection catalogues for art museums across the country, but also of academic journals, including Gesta, for the International Center of Medieval Art, and Gastronomica.
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fronia e. wissman; Renoir's Onions. Gastronomica 1 May 2009; 9 (2): 7–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.2.7
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