• Property from the Collection o auction at Christies

    Sale 2410

    Property from the Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody

    4 May 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 10

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

    Femme accoudée

    Price Realised  


    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
    Femme accoudée
    signed and dated 'Renoir. 87' (upper left)
    oil on canvas
    13½ x 11¼ in. (34.3 x 28.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1887

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    The present painting of a young girl lost in reverie dates to a key transitional moment in Renoir's career. By 1884, the artist had to come to feel, as he later told the dealer Ambroise Vollard, that he "had reached the end of Impressionism" (quoted in J. House, Renoir, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, p. 241). Over the course of the next three years, Renoir increasingly turned away from Impressionism, which he had begun to view as too imprecise and lacking in form, and concentrated on a more solidly modeled, classicizing conception of the figure. John House has written, "In technique, composition and subject matter Renoir was deliberately moving away from any suggestion of the fleeting or the contingent, away from the Impressionist preoccupation with the captured instant, towards a more timeless vision of woman" (ibid., p. 242). In marked contrast to other periods in his career, Renoir traveled little between 1884 and 1887; the stimulus of new landscapes and novel effects was irrelevant-- even detrimental--to the pictorial problems that he was exploring. He also exhibited only occasionally, opting not to submit to the Salon between 1883 and 1890, nor to the final Impressionist group show in 1886. Instead, he focused on consolidating what Pissarro described in a letter to his son Lucien as Renoir's "new manner" (quoted in C. Bailey, Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1997, p. 19). The culminating work of this period is the monumental Baigneuses (Philadelphia Museum of Art), which was exhibited at the Galerie Georges Petit in the spring of 1887.

    Renoir once proclaimed that "in literature as well as in painting, talent is shown only by the treatment of the feminine figures" (quoted in J. House, op. cit., p. 16), and one of the principal problems with which he grappled during the mid-1880s was how to transform the modern woman into l'éternel feminin. The present painting exemplifies the resolution that he achieved. Rather than a genuine likeness of a known sitter, it depicts an anonymous model whose physiognomy is made to conform to Renoir's ideal type: rounded features, pearly pink skin, a snub nose, bee-stung lips, and wide eyes. Whereas Renoir's depictions of women in the 1870s typically presented them as the central element in the visual pageantry of the modern world, on public display in stylish fashions, paintings like the present one eschew any such reference to contemporary life. Moreover, in lieu of the full- or three-quarter-length format that Renoir had preferred in his earlier figure paintings, he opted here to depict his model from a relatively close vantage point, against a flat, indistinct background that contrasts with the strong contours of her face. The result is to instill the painting with a timeless, classical quality, which is underscored by the contemplative, almost melancholy, attitude of the young girl.

    Special Notice

    On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.


    Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
    Walter Feilchenfeldt, Zurich.
    Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York.
    Acquired from the above by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney F. Brody, 18 June 1956.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please see the Special Payment Instructions for Brody Evening Sale Lots 1-28 which are printed in the Saleroom Notice for Lot 1 above.

    This painting will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute, as established from the archives of François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.

    This painting will be included in volume III or subsequent volumes of the Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles de Renoir being prepared by Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville published by Bernheim-Jeune.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody


    A. Vollard, Tableaux, pastels, et dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1918, vol. I, p. 124, no. 495 (illustrated).
    F. Daulte, Auguste Renoir, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Lausanne, 1971, vol. I, no. 513 (illustrated).
    G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins, et aquarelles, Paris, 2009, vol. II, p. 307, no. 1175 (illustrated).