Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Property from the Collection of Herbert and Adele Klapper
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Portrait de Mademoiselle Yvonne Lerolle

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Portrait de Mademoiselle Yvonne Lerolle
signed ‘Renoir’ (upper right)
oil on canvas
36 1/8 x 28 5/8 in. (91.7 x 72.7 cm.)
Painted circa 1894
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired from the artist, before 1919).
Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., London.
Rosenberg & Stiebel Galleries, New York.
Private collection, Paris.
Acquired by the late owners, circa 1983.
A. Vollard, Tableaux, pastels et dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1918, vol. II, p. 17 (illustrated).
G. Néret, Renoir: 60 chefs-d'oeuvres, Paris, 1985, no. 47 (illustrated in color).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue Raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2009, vol. II, p. 298, no. 1156 (illustrated).
New York, Wildenstein & Co., Inc., A Loan Exhibition of Renoir for the Benefit of the New York Infirmary, March-April 1950, p. 43, no. 56 (illustrated, p. 60; dated 1886).
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Ltd., Important French Masters, February-March 1953, p. 17, no. 26 (illustrated).
New York, Beadleston Gallery, Inc., The Herbert J. & Adele Klapper Collection, May 2002, no. 10 (illustrated in color; detail illustrated in color on the frontispiece; dated 1891).
Sale room notice
Please note the title has been updated to: Portrait de Mademoiselle Yvonne Lerolle

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Max Carter
Max Carter

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Pierre-Auguste Renoir Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

Throughout his career, one of Renoir’s favorite themes was the visual pageantry of the everyday world, made manifest in fashionable young women clad in “beautiful fabrics, shimmering silks, sparkling diamonds—though the thought of adorning myself with them is horrifying!” (quoted in Renoir, exh. cat., Kunsthalle, Tübingen, 1996, p. 204). In addition to formal society portraits, he frequently painted anonymous models in this way, singly or in pairs, focusing on their youthful appeal and stylish adornment. “It was with pictures such as these,” John House has noted, “that the artist found a real market in the 1890s, especially with Durand-Ruel” (Renoir, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, p. 251).
In Portrait de femme, the ginger-haired model, Yvonne Lerolle, wears a dress of opalescent white silk with a voluminous bodice, billowing sleeves, a high neck, and a tightly cinched waist—an up-to-the-minute style, akin to the gown that society matron Lucie Gallimard chose when she sat for Renoir in 1892 (Dauberville, no. 1154). Lerolle's features conform closely to Renoir’s preferred type during the 1890s, softer and more idealized than the naturalistic young grisettes or working girls of his Impressionist heyday. “For me, a painting should be something pleasant, joyous, and pretty,” he now insisted, “yes, pretty!” (quoted in Renoir in the Barnes Foundation, exh. cat. New Haven, 2012, p. 16).
The present painting is exceptional for the full-face pose of the model, who meets the viewer’s eye with a steady, composed gaze. While this is common in Renoir’s portraits of specific individuals, his genre paintings more often depict their stock subjects looking downward, staring into the distance, or with their faces partially averted from view. In his 1897 portraits of Yvonne and Christine Lerolle, Renoir uncharacteristically portrayed the named sitters absorbed in everyday activities—playing the piano and sewing—more readily associated with genre painting (Dauberville, nos. 2039 and 2071). In the present canvas, by contrast, he borrowed from the conventions of formal portraiture to enliven a modern costume piece, imparting to his model a sense of intelligence and active agency.
Renoir brought the different components of Portrait de femme (Yvonne Lerolle assise) to varying states of finish, providing insight into his working practice and formal priorities. The model’s hands and dress are loosely rendered, and the background is laid down in broad strokes of blue. The model’s face, however, is rendered with exquisite precision; the light catches on her glossy curls and the shimmering silk of her collar, which contrast with the matte, velvety texture of her skin.

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