As a youth, Impressionist painter Renoir painted china dishes in Limoges, France. Later, he painted peasants and domestic workers. Set side by side with the rich folks he would eventually portray, these proletarians have the undeniable nobility conferred by honest work. That is not surprising. Writing about him, his son, filmmaker Jean Renoir, mentioned that his father railed against “stupid hands.” He does not elaborate, but it is easy to assume that for him, stupid hands were those that would not plant a garden, sew a seam, bathe a child, cook a meal, set a table. France
Many of them women he painted had clever hands. He shows them shows them holding children, baking bread, harvesting vegetables. He revels in their solid earthiness, their nonsense approach to tasks his silk-gowned, carefully coiffed clients disdained. Gabrielle, the shown above is one of the women Renoir painted again and again. She had the down to earth approach to life, the luscious, abundant flesh, the luminous beauty he loved in his wife Aline. She joined his household to helped bring up his children and she became one of his favorite models. See her above, lovingly lit, extravagantly dressed. Note how unsuitable the extravagant collar she wears is to the homely chores she performed all her life. It is as if Renoir were saying that people with clever hands have the gift to tranform themselves. They can paint dishes, plant gardens, bathe children one day and they can dress up in some marvelous garment of their own making and go dancing at Bougival. Take a leaf from his book. Knit, crochet or embroider a Gabrielle collar. Put it on and go paint the town. It is Friday. Shabbat shalom!
Above, left, Junior wear a red crocheted cotton jabot.