Fans of Pierre Auguste Renoir take a deep breath: the Frick Collection in New York, U.S.A., has undoubtedly one of the best Renoir exhibitions for 2012, known as Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting. That’s right: from winter to spring, they will present nine Renoir paintings that are famous for one distinction, being the only surviving full-length oil on canvas works to date. The works were associated with the official Paris Salon in the decade that saw the emergence of a fully fledged Impressionist aesthetic and thus occupy a monumental place in the history of art.

How did this project get started? Curators were stimulated by La Promenade (as pictured), which was the most important Impressionist work in the Frick’s permanent collection. The Renoir painting serves as a supreme example of Renoir’s subject pictures and portraits from that time and is mammoth in size and intellectual scope. Renoir wanted the work to be publicly displayed thus the artist put in an almost supernatural amount of time and effort to create what are now considered pure masterpieces of Impressionism. The exhibition also includes the following full length works: La Parisienne (1874), from the National Museum Wales, Cardiff; The Umbrellas (c. 1881 and 1885) from The National Gallery, London, which will be shown in the U.S. for the first time since 1886; and Dance in the City and Dance in the Country (1882–83) from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

But the organisers didn’t just stop at the international scene. They also managed to borrow the iconic Renoir painting The Dancer (1874) from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Madame Henriot “en travesty” (1875–76) from the Columbus Museum of Art; Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando (1879) from The Art Institute of Chicago; and Dance at Bougival (1882–83) from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The most groundbreaking revelations from the exhibition spring from Renoir’s intricate ambitions as a young artist, where he submitted works to both the Paris Salon and the independent Impressionist exhibitions. This set Renoir apart from the main, hardcore group of Impressionists: even though he painted in the new style, he still kept the full-length format which the impressionists disregarded in favour of smaller canvasses and Japanese styled compositions.  To flesh out his motivation and the response from society, the exhibition draws on numerous sources of contemporary criticism, archival documents and literature to explore the motivation behind the full figure Renoir paintings.

Another aspect worth a double look is the subject of the paintings themselves. Renoir’s paintings could be considered nearly documentary in nature due to the attention he paid in painting aspects of Parisian society. This applies particularly to the women, as he brings the Belle Époque gaudily to life. Renoir displayed a sublime talent in creating lace, silk, taffeta and fur, all cut and fashioned beautifully into the most gorgeous ball gowns, stylish day dresses and luxurious furs. You would think he was a founding father of Elle!

You’d be mad to miss the exhibition if you could get to it, so do yourself a favour and statisfy that Impressionist urge. The exhibition’s principal funding is provided by The Florence Gould Foundation and Michel David-Weill, with additional support provided by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, The Grand Marnier Foundation, and the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. The exhibition will be shown in the Frick’s East Gallery and it was organised by Frick’s Deputy Director Colin B. Bailey and Chief Curator Peter Jay Sharp.