Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Portrait de Nini Lopez (Profil blond)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Portrait de Nini Lopez (Profil blond)
signed 'Renoir' (upper right)
oil on canvas
10¼ x 8 5/8in. (26 x 22cm.)
Painted in 1876
Paul Bérard, Paris; his sale, Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, 8 May 1905, lot 25 (4,500 francs).
Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom purchased at the above sale.
G. Camentron, Paris, by whom purchased from the above, 2 June 1905, for 4,510 francs.
Galerie Schmit, Paris.
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 1995, lot 12 ($992,500), where purchased by the present owner.
M. Bérard, Renoir à Wargemont, Paris, 1938 (illustrated).
F. Daulte, Auguste Renoir, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint: Figures 1860-1890, Vol. I, Lausanne, 1971, no. 222 (illustrated).
E. Fezzi & J. Henry, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Renoir, période impressioniste, 1869-1883, Paris, 1985, no. 256, p.100 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie Schmit, Pour mon plaisir XIXe-XXe siècles, May - July 1982, no. 81 (illustrated in colour).
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Lot Essay

Nini Lopez was one of Renoir's favourite models and posed for many sumptuous figurative paintings between 1875 and 1879. She appears as the model for the garden series of paintings Renoir executed at the rue Cortot in Paris, as well as for the more intimate interiors; appearing in many guises she is the image of motherhood in Le premier pas (D.347; fig. 2) and the sultry, erotically charged young woman in La pensée (D.227; fig. 1). As Barbara E. White has observed, these works are 'intimate studies... Renoir treated his figures as models in active scenes; these are not meant to be revealing character studies. Consequently, he blurred the distinction between making a portrait of someone and using that person as a model' (Impressionists Side by Side, New York, 1966, p. 91).

There is hardly any information about Nini's life other than the fact that her stepfather was a provost in an arms room and that he guarded her virtue jealously. Her mother wanted her to marry a respectable gentleman, and instead she chose to marry a third-rate actor from the Montmartre theatre, with whom she had fallen in love. The contemporary critic Georges Rivière described her as 'an ideal model: punctual, serious, and discreet, she took up no more room than a cat in the studio... She had a marvellous head of shining, golden blond hair, long eyelashes beneath well-arched brows and a profile of classical purity' (quoted in N. Wadley (ed.), exh. cat. Renoir: A Retrospective, New York, 1987, p. 87).

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