In 1876, Renoir began to paint anecdotal depictions of women and children, subjects in which he excelled. A Girl with a Watering Can, typical of these works, displays a mature impressionist style attuned to the specific requirements of figure painting. Renoir’s colors reflect the freshness and radiance of the impressionist palette, while his handling is more controlled and regular than in his landscapes, with even brushstrokes applied in delicate touches, especially in the girl’s face. Brilliant prismatic hues envelop the child in an atmosphere of warm light and charmingly convey her innocent appeal.
Specific identifications have been proposed for the girl, but none is convincing. More likely, Renoir depicted a neighborhood child whose pretty features pleased him. A girl with similar curly blond hair, sparkling blue eyes, plump pink cheeks, and smiling red lips appears, dressed the same way in other paintings by Renoir, suggesting she was a favorite figure in the artist’s repertory. A Girl with a Watering Can is a showcase of the grace and charm of the artist’s work.