• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2046

    Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

    6 November 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 206

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Richard Guino (1890-1973)

    Grande laveuse

    Price Realised  


    Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Richard Guino (1890-1973)
    Grande laveuse
    signed with initials and signed 'RG Renoir' (on the top of the base); dated, numbered and inscribed 'c 1983 GUINO 1917 E.A. 4/4' (on the top of the base); stamped with foundry mark and dated again 'Susse Fondeur Paris 1983' (on the back of the base)
    bronze with brown and green patina
    Height: 48 1/8 in. (122.2 cm.)
    Length: 51¾ in. (131.4 cm.)
    Conceived in 1917; this bronze version cast in 1983

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Michel Guino has confirmed the authenticity of this sculpture.

    The magnificent Grande laveuse is widely considered Renoir's sculptural masterpiece. Conceived in 1917, this monumental work was the last sculpture completed by the artist in his collaboration with Richard Guino. Designed to be a companion piece to an equally large seated Le Forgeron, the Grande laveuse was inspired by the abstract notion of elemental opposites. These humble figures--"a simple blacksmith heating the iron, a simple washerwoman scrubbing the laundry"--were devised as connotative icons, illustrating the primordial dichotomy of fire and water (P. Haesaerts, op. cit., p. 31). Cast, significantly, as a man and a woman, the two figures constitute a symbolic paradigm, connoting a virtually endless series of oppositions.

    Though Guino completed some sketches for Le Forgeron in terracotta and plaster, as well as drawings after a model in the scale of execution, Renoir soon grew weary of this partnership and Le Forgeron was never completed. As such, the Grande laveuse persists as the testament to this ambitious project, and the apotheosis of Renoir's sculptural work. As Paul Haesaerts has observed:

    In its present state the statue is beautiful and imposing. It surprises the spectator by its vigor and wildness. The volumes have impressive fullness and density. This huge body, with its rounded shoulders, its wall-like bosom and its powerful buttocks, resembles a great rock, or some heavy Roman architecture. The two outstretched arms, bearing on the two columns formed by the wet linen (a sculptural find), look like two mighty buttresses. They foreshadow the 'primitive' and arrogant forms which sculptors like Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore favor, and which define their abstract art. A head with fleshy, panting lips, a distracted look, a twitching nose, dominates this mass and completes the symphony of muscle and blood in which the cosmic and the animal blend with the human (ibid.).


    Private collection, Switzerland (1983).
    Jeffrey H. Loria & Co., Inc., New York (acquired from the above).
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1997.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from a Private American Collection


    P. Haeserts, Renoir Sculptor, New York, 1947, p. 42, no. 21 (another cast illustrated, pls. XXXVIII-XLII).
    A. Barr, ed., Masters of Modern Art, New York, 1958, pp. 40-41 (another cast illustrated, p. 41).