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Renoir rarely worked on one canvas at a time, and Nini in the Garden, signed but not dated, belongs to the period immediately before work on the Moulin de la Galette began in earnest. Inspired by Monet's work at Argenteuil, Renoir had been experimenting since the early 1870s with the motif of young women in the garden: in size, , and orientation, Nini in the Garden may be loosely grouped with Woman with a Black Dog, 1874 (formerly, Charles Clore Collection, London) and the radiant Umbrella of 1878 (sale, Christie's, May 11,1988, lot 15). These paintings are identical in size (24 by 20 inches); each explores the problem of integrating the clothed female figure in ambient daylight and achieving a harmony between elegant Parisienne and exuberant nature. Even more closely related is Young Girl on the Beach, which was probably painted at the same session: there, the model, Nini Lopez, sits on a similar garden chair wearing identical dress, but her presence is more assertive, now the chief element in the composition. Both paintings convey the delight that Renoir experienced in the large garden at the rue Cortot.Renoir's handling is energized, nervous, and experimental. He makes no attempt to unify the paint surface of his canvas: ridges of rich impasto sit alongside areas of barely covered ground. His color is nonetheless applied in dabs and strokes of varying touch, appropriate to the forms they describe. Thus, the leafy bushes in the background are a mosaic of greens, browns, and ochers; the sky in the upper left a series of blue strokes placed over the greens--the most obvious of Renoir's borrowings from Monet. Nini herself is painted more emphatically, the violet blue of her hat and underskirt the densest blocks of color in the composition. Nini's costume is very similar to, if not identical to, the one she wears in Departure from the Conservatory. Comparison helps establish the design of Nini's ensemble as it appears in Nini in the Garden: dark tunic over a light pinafore dress, with dark underskirt, this last element just visible through the grass and plants.