In 1925 the painting was bought by Annie S. Coburn, at her death the artwork was bequeathed to the Art Institute of Chicago where it has been housed since 1933.
Renoir painted Two Sisters on the top terrace of Restaurant Fournaise in the village of Chatou on the banks of the Seine in Paris. It is the same location as Renoir painted “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, among many of his other works as he was a regular customer there. Despite the title, the two subjects of the painting are not related. The elder sister is modelled by Jeanne Darlot, who later became an actress.
Both sisters are well dressed, the elder is wearing a dark blue flannel dress which is enlivened by a bright red hat with a flower. She sits quietly in a chair looking thoughtfully into the distance.
The artist has beautifully captured her serene facial expression and her flawless youthful complexion. The young child looks in wide eyed innocence directly at the artist while remaining close by her sibling, as though needing her reassurance.
She is holding their basket with both hands. The sharp contrast of the sisters in the foreground to the landscape behind is achieved by using a softer more natural palette for the background than the vivid colours used for the sister's attire.
This delineation between subject and background became more pronounced as he began to move away from Impressionism at about this time. It is Spring and the trees behind the terrace seem to be in early leaf.
The vines and plants that snake their way around the ironwork of the terrace are beginning to show fresh new life. The bold brush strokes here give the idea of the vivacity of nature at this time of year.
The painting is an expression of youthfulness and hope. There is a boat behind the sisters on the Seine. The broken reflection of the craft and occupant give an elegant impression of the movement of the water.