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Édouard Manet
The Folkestone Boat, Boulogne
Philadelphia Museum of Art
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by Donald Kuspit

Apparently disaffected with his early work, in what appears to be a mid-career and mid-life crisis -- a crisis of artistic and personal identity -- Pierre-Auguste Renoir turned to what Clement Greenberg disparagingly called "museum art" in an effort to renew his creativity. Just as "Soutine turned his back on Cubism. . . and refused to like anything but the Old Masters," Greenberg writes,(1) so Renoir turned his back on Impressionism -- the Impressionism of La Grenouillère (1869), a "visual exploration of a dazzling newness even by such advanced standards of 1869 as Manet’s Departure of the Folkestone Boat," as Robert Rosenblum says(2) -- and "sought to adapt his new manner of painting from nature with the art of the past," in the words with which the Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates its exhibition of "Late Renoir."