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

Deux femmes assises et une debout, un enfant (Paysage avec trois femmes et un enfant)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Deux femmes assises et une debout, un enfant (Paysage avec trois femmes et un enfant)
indistinctly stamped 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
23 5/8 x 19 ¾ in. (60 x 50.1 cm.)
Painted in 1918
Estate of the artist.
Jean Renoir, Paris (by descent from the above).
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Sydney M. Schoenberg, Jr., St. Louis (acquired from the above).
St. Louis Art Museum (gift from the above, December 1952); sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, Inc., New York, 14 May 1980, lot 223.
Acquired at the above sale by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C. Whitehead.
Bernheim-Jeune, ed., LAtelier de Renoir, Paris, 1931, vol. II, p. 245, no. 663 (illustrated, pl. 208; incorrectly numbered, no. 662).
The City Art Museum of St. Louis, ed., The City Art Museum of St. Louis: Handbook of the Collections, St. Louis, 1953, p. 143 (illustrated).
W.N. Eisendrath, Jr., "A Late Painting by Renoir in Belletin of the City Art Museum, St. Louis, 1954, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 1-4 (illustrated on the cover).
Achim Moeller Fine Art, ed., Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters: The John C. Whitehead Collection, A Collection in Progress, New York, 1987, p. 86 (illustrated in color, p. 87).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2014, vol. V, p. 214, no. 4000 (illustrated).
Omaha, Joslyn Art Museum, Mary Cassatt Among the Impressionists, April-June 1969, p. 73, no. 43 (illustrated, p. 28; titled Figures in a Landscape).
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, The Whitehead Collection: Late 19th and 20th Century French Masters: A Collection in Progress, April-May 1997, p. 70, no. 48 (illustrated in color, p. 71).
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is indistinctly stamped 'Renoir.' (lower right).

Brought to you by

Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

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 François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.

The aura of the “eternal feminine” suffuses this gloriously Arcadian vision of the Midi, a timelessly serene realm of dazzling light, palpable warmth and sensual abundance. As Gilles Bourdos memorably evoked in his critically acclaimed 2012 film Renoir, the master of Cagnes-sur-Mer lived during his final years in a world of women. Nearly all the local men, those who were not too young, old, or infirm, had taken up arms for their country during the First World War. Both of Renoir’s eldest sons, Pierre and Jean, were wounded in September 1914, Jean again–much more seriously this time–less than a year later. Director Bourdos’s film focuses on the period of Jean’s convalescence back at home, before he returned to duty, having volunteered to join the French Flying Corps.
During the high summer of 1918, when Renoir painted this paysage animé, the November armistice which ended the war was still several months away. The artist’s youngest son Claude (“Coco”) had just turned seventeen and was still at his side. Since the death of his wife Aline in 1915, aged only 56, the women in Renoir’s life were now his nurse Louise, his cook Marie Dupuis (“La Boulangère”), the housekeeper Nénette, and, of course, the beautiful teenaged girls who posed for him, now chiefly Andrée (“Dédée”) Heuschling–whom Jean married in 1920–and Madeleine Bruno. Both models and one other member of the household are likely those present in this painting, with a related child and the family dog.
Renoir and Monet were the great surviving charter members of the Impressionist circle. Unlike Monet and Degas in their old age, Renoir’s eyesight was a keen as ever. Although he suffered from painful rheumatoid arthritis, which confined him to a wheelchair, Renoir painted every day except Sunday. Matisse, a visitor to Les Collettes during late 1917 and early 1918, was astonished to see him creating “all his best work!” as he later declared. “The soul in him seemed to grow continually stronger and express itself with radiant ease” (quoted in F. Harris, Contemporary Portraits, Fourth Series, New York, 1923, p. 125).
Amid the silvery gleam of huge, ancient olive trees, Renoir worked on the grounds of Les Collettes in a specially designed shed with large windows that could be opened wide to catch passing breezes. “The landscape was a microcosm of all the riches of the world,” as Jean described this setting. “’It’s intoxicating,’ [Renoir] kept repeating” (Renoir, My Father, New York, 1958, pp. 428-429). The artist painted this canvas as part of a series of such plein air scenes as he began work on the final masterwork of his career, Grandes baigneuses, 1918-1919 (Musée d’Orsay, Paris), in which he employed both Dédée and Madeleine. The figures in his late paintings fuse with the flame-like chroma of their surroundings. Here, near the very end of his career, a fervor for brilliant color–as in Delacroix–would carry the day; and so Renoir cast his spell on Matisse, who would thereafter make the Midi the chief inspiration for his own art.
“Renoir’s life was a display of fireworks to the end,” Jean Renoir wrote. “Although his palette became more and more austere, the most dazzling colors, the most daring contrasts issued from it. It was as if all Renoir’s love of the beauty of this life, which he could no longer enjoy physically, had gushed out of his whole tortured being. He was radiant...by which I mean we felt there were rays emanating from his brush, as it caressed the canvas... So he strode with giant steps toward that summit where mind and matter become one, knowing full well that no man can attain these heights. Each stroke of his brush...declared to the men of this century, already deep in their task of destruction, the stability of the eternal balance of nature” (ibid., p. 421).

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