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Renoir first began to conduct experiment with pastel soon after Manet and Degas, in the mid-1870s, and his interest in the medium increased through the next decade. In contrast to his drawings, which he exhibited rarely, he considered his pastels an essential part of his art work and frequently showed them in public. He rarely employed pastel for his formal portrait commissions, however, reserving the medium for works in which the sitters were friends or family (and almost exclusively young women and children, whom he saw as particularly appropriate subjects for the delicate, luminous effects of pastel). One contemporary critic has explained Renoir's pastels: "If he frequently used that medium to depict those near and dear to him, it was because pastel, which combines color with line, gave him the possibility of working rapidly to capture in all their vividness the rapid flash of intelligence and the fleeting show of emotion".