“The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris” is one of the well-known cityscape paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Pierre Renoir (1841 to 1919) was one of the leading lights of the impressionist school of painting. “The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris,” painted during the 1892-1893 period, is a fine example of this style, and belongs to the later stage of Renoir’s career.
As the title indicates, “The Church of Holy Trinity in Paris”, has the landmark Church of Holy Trinity, or “le Église de la Sainte-Trinité” in Paris as the overbearing object.
In fidelity to the impressionist style, the portrait depicts normal, everyday life around the Church. The horse driven carriages, the pedestrians, the gathering of people in front of the church, the trees and the woods, the buildings in the background, the smokes emancipating from the buildings in the background, and more, give a sense of reality to the painting. The attention to detail is truly striking.
In a sense, “The Church of Holy Trinity in Paris,” is a throwback to Renoir’s old style, when he was influenced by classical impressionists, such as Gustave Courbet
and Édouard Manet. These masters focused on realistic landscapes, and other inanimate themes, and made extensive use of black colour. The portrait describes the vivid life around the church with a high degree of accuracy, and is a realistic representation of the times. Renoir was focusing on human forms, especially feminine sensuality in the years preceding this painting.
By the 1870’s, Renoir had digressed from the overbearing influence of Manet and Coubert, and had carved out his distinct signature style. Renoir now became influenced by peers such as Eugène Delacroix, and began to co-opt vivid colours and luminosity in his paintings. Unlike classical Impressionist, who focused on inanimate objects, Renoir celebrated feminine beauty extensively, and has painted several feminine figures, mostly in the nude.
“The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris,” while bearing fidelity to Manet’s landscape theme and use of black, also offers overbearing traits of Renoir’s distinct style. True to Renoir's signature style, there is a vivid use of colours and luminosity, which enlivens the painting. Though there is no dominating human figure or abundantly flushed nudes, for which Renoir was so popular in his later years, the painting does deal with human subjects. The focus is human lives around the Church, with the gigantic Church eclipsing over the tiny multitude of commoners who live their daily lives.
“The Church of the Holy Trinity in Paris” is one of Renoir's last major works of excellence, before rheumatoid arthritis limited his abilities. The painting counts among the popular ones among his works, which exceed over a thousand paintings.
The Church of Holy Trinity is the famous Roman Catholic church, situated in the arrondissement of Paris. The church was constructed between 1861 and 1867, during Renoir’s lifetime, and as such as a relatively new, imposing, and interesting landmark when Renoir painted it.