Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Portrait de femme
signed 'Renoir.' (upper right)
oil on canvas
16¼ x 13¼ in. (41.3 x 33.7 cm.)
Painted in 1897
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, January 1898).
Bellanger collection (acquired from the above, February 1935).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, January 1936).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, January 1936).
Niveau Gallery, New York (acquired from the above, January 1945).
Acquired by the family of the present owner, circa 1955.
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute established from the archives of Fran/dois Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.
Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville have confirmed that this painting is included in their Bernheim-Jeune archives as an authentic work.
In the 1890s, Renoir began to enjoy wider critical attention and a greater circle of buyers, in a large part due to his dealers, Durand-Ruel, who were assiduous in cultivating his position as a fashionable portraitist of young society beauties.
Renoir usually chose to depict his sitters half or bust-length, in expensive dress and flamboyant hats, often viewed from a fugitive angle so as to emphasize the delicacy of their profiles, adding a modern immediacy to variations on the theme of the antique cameo. Concurrently, he developed a more intimate style of portraiture, reflecting his growing family and circle of close friends. Portrait de femme, combines both of these tendencies: while he focuses on the intricacies and details of her fashionable dress, he also subtly expresses the sitter's temperament and mood, making this not only a study on beauty and modernity but a personalized and distinct portrait. The young sitter wears a high-neck dress with voluminous red sleeves and delicate black piping at the shoulders, her hair pulled back in a tight chignon with small curls at her temples. Her fair features, innocent yet slightly aloof gaze and conservative yet stylish dress suggest the fusion of youth and beauty in his captivating sitter.