In this study for his painting of modern naiads, the artist explored the pose of the bather in the left foreground of the painting, recoiling as one of her companions splashes her. While the figure appears almost identical in the painted version, Renoir replaced her passive companion by the river bank with a more animated bather, wrapping herself in a sheet.
Among the at least twenty studies for The Great Bathers, the Morgan sheet stands out for being one of two full-scale model drawings for the final composition. Executed on paper mounted to canvas, the drawing’s condition is remarkable. The surface itself is striking: it retains the original powdery white chalk used for the flesh of the figures and to outline their forms.
“The bold, sensuous lines of this expressive drawing present a different side to the Renoir we know through his paintings,” said director of the museum, Colin B. Bailey. “The Morgan’s Drawings Department is renowned for its collection of works that illustrate the creative process, and this drawing gives us a glimpse into the mind of a master. We are delighted to share it with visitors soon.”