PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919)
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919)
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE ASIAN COLLECTION
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919)

Jeune femme en costume oriental devant une table à thé

Details
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919)
Jeune femme en costume oriental devant une table à thé
signed ‘Renoir.’ (upper right)
oil on canvas
31 7⁄8 x 25 7⁄8 in. (81 x 65.9 cm.)
Painted in 1909-1910
Provenance
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 15 March 1916.
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, by whom acquired from the above circa April 1916.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in circa July 1946.
Pierre Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1946, and thence by descent.
Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired from the above on 2 July 1963.
Sam Salz, New York, by whom acquired from the above on 8 July 1963.
Col. Edgar William & Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, Florida, New York & Maryland; their estate sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 12 May 1980, lot 33.
Private collection, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Christie’s, New York, 8 November 2000, lot 15.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
A. André, Renoir, Paris, 1920, n.p. (illustrated pl. 8; titled 'Jeune femme en costume oriental').
G. Coquiot, Renoir, Paris, 1925, p. 239 (illustrated p. 9; titled 'Jeune femme en costume oriental').
M. Drucker, Renoir, Paris, 1944, no. 136, p. 207 (illustrated pl. 136; dated 'circa 1905').
E. Fezzi, L'opera completa di Renoir nel periodo impressionista, 1869-1883, Milan, 1972, no. 708, p. 121 (illustrated; dated 'circa 1905').
G.-P. & M. Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, vol. IV, 1903-1910, Paris, 2012, no. 3480, p. 472 (illustrated; dated 'circa 1905').
Exhibited
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, January 1917, no. 3.
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Renoir, February 1920, no. 15.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice. Christie's has provided a minimum price guarantee and has a direct financial interest in this lot. Christie's has financed all or a part of such interest through a third party. Such third parties generally benefit financially if a guaranteed lot is sold. See the Important Notices in the Conditions of Sale for more information.
Further details
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.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay


Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s figure paintings after 1900 often featured a voluptuous, raven-haired beauty in various guises: exotic courtesan, natural nymph, or modern domestic goddess. The model for these fantasies had long been Gabrielle Renard, a relative of the artist’s wife, Aline. Gabrielle had served as governess to Renoir’s children, but eventually began to pose for Renoir and to assist him in his studio. This intimate, longtime member of the Renoir household came to be the artist’s most prolific muse. Though other young women occasionally appeared in her stead, Gabrielle’s dark features and soft curves continued to inform Renoir’s work. As the art dealer Gaston Bernheim de Villers recalled of visiting Renoir’s home in Cagnes in Southern France, Gabrielle was ‘an extremely beautiful brunette – charming and intelligent. When you arrived for luncheon you were almost certain to find Renoir painting her, either in the nude or wearing transparent oriental robes’ (quoted in Masterpieces from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., New York, 1994, p. 75).

Jeune femme en costume oriental devant une table à thé features the ‘oriental robes’ described by Bernheim de Villars. The curvaceous young woman, whose zaftig body dominates the composition, assumes a relaxed pose and a tranquil expression. Her sheer striped silk top, tied loosely at the waist with a blood-orange sash with emerald green fringe, has fallen open; Renoir has artfully contrived the drapery to reveal the profile of her right breast and to hint at the curvature of the left. The model is seated next to a round gilt Louis XVI side table known as a guéridon, set with the elegant accessories of tea: a silver tea pot, as well as floral porcelain sucrier and tea cup. She holds two yellow roses in her hand, and a full pink blossom – echoing the pink swells of her décolletage – is tucked into her loose chignon. Executed in a captivating play of soft brushstrokes and luminous colour, the painting links stylistically to Renoir’s paintings of Gabrielle from the opening years of the century.

Renoir was, of course, no stranger to the erotic female nude. As a young student at the Louvre Renoir had studied the Venetian blondes of Titian, the dimpled muses of Peter Paul Rubens, and the cheeky Venuses of Francois Boucher. These artists provided important models for Renoir's own approach to the feminine form, as well as his bejewelled colour palette and loose, sensual brushwork; as Robert Rosenblum asserted, ‘Renoir seemed to sail along on the tidal wave of epic Western traditions, in the direct lineage of Titian, of Rubens, and above all, of that 18th century domain of Rococo hedonism, a world of leisure, of spectacle, of simple, sensual arousal and fulfilment which he could translate effortlessly into the painting of a 19th-century experience, both real and imaginary’ (Art in America, March 1986, p. 116). Renoir’s paintings of fleshy female nudes, like Jeune femme en costume oriental devant une table à thé, also conveyed the artist’s own personal pleasure in and taste for women; as Lawrence Gowing opined, ‘The brush in his hand…was part of him; it shared his faculty of feeling’ (‘Renoir's Sentiment and Sense,’ Renoir, exh. cat., Hayward GalleryLondon1985, p. 31).

The buxom, scantily clad model in the present work certainly strikes an erotic note; yet her ‘costume oriental’ also evokes the theme of Orientalism: romanticized fantasies of North Africa and Near and Far East Asia, concocted by European artists, writers, and composers. This theme emerged in Renoir’s work throughout his career, motivated in part by the fact that he had travelled to the French colony of Algeria twice, in 1881 and 1882. At this time, Renoir was earning a steady income through his partnership with the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, and had essentially abdicated from the Impressionist exhibitions in Paris; this freed him to stage a number of international voyages to Italy, Spain, and beyond in the early 1880s.

On his first trip to Algeria, Renoir became enamoured by the lush environment, and there conceived several land- and cityscape paintings. On his second trip, however, he focused primarily on figurative studies; he filled a sketchbook with his observations of sumptuous native costumes, comprised of luxurious fabrics with colourful patterns and metallic embroidery. Renoir struggled, however, to find local female subjects who were willing to pose for him; he wrote to Durand-Ruel, ‘Here I am, more or less settled in Algiers and negotiating with some Arab [men] to find models, which is not easy… The figure, even in Algiers, is getting more and more difficult to obtain’ (quoted in R. Benjamin, Orientalist Aesthetics: Art, Colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930, p. 43).

Though he never returned, Renoir continued to dream of Algeria for the rest of his life. His memories of the trip would occasionally surface in his work, particularly in his later figure paintings. Unlike the voyeuristic harem scenes painted by the Neoclassicist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres or the Romanticist Eugène Delacroix, however, Renoir’s Orientalist paintings are costume fantasies. Renoir outfitted his (European) models in flowy, flamboyant garments that were only loosely inspired by his earlier trips to Algeria. The young woman in the present painting, for example, appears to be seated not in a North African domestic interior but rather an elegant French salon, surrounded by the gilded and porcelain trappings of the French Rococo. In the words of Colin Bailey, Renoir’s odalisques were ‘Frenchified’ (‘Renoir and Algeria,’ The Burlington Magazine, September, 2003, vol. 145, no. 1206, p. 684). This subject thus conforms more closely to what Kirk Varnedoe described as ‘Renoir’s canon of female beauty,’ which ‘seemed to embody a special marriage between classicizing idealism and a distinctly modern, specifically French sense of sophisticated pleasure’ (exh. cat., op. cit., p. 34).

In this sense, Renoir’s Jeune femme en costume oriental shares much in common with the odalisques of Henri Matisse, the Fauvist painter who similarly reinvented the subject in his own modern visual language. Matisse first met Renoir in 1917, two years before the Impressionist painter’s death. Matisse had previously undertaken his own North African voyages – to Algeria in 1906 and Morocco in 1912 and 1913 – which had infiltrated his own painted subject matter. After coming into contact with Renoir, however, Matisse adopted the Impressionist’s own hybrid, theatrical approach to the subject. He painted semi-nude French models, situated in his own studio in Nice, wearing accessories that refer vaguely to North Africa, but also to the French Orientalist painting tradition that preceded him. In Matisse’s Odalisque couchée aux magnolias of 1923, for example, a pale brunette is sprawled against a chaise upholstered in bold modern stripe; her loose white blouse has parted to reveal her bare torso, simply adorned with a chunky yellow necklace.

While the sartorial details may bear references to his experiences in Algeria, Renoir’s Jeune femme en costume oriental devant une table à thé belongs to his more general ‘idealised, timeless and therefore mythic vision of women’ (T. Garb, ‘Renoir and the Natural Woman,’ Oxford Art Journal , 1985, vol. 8, no. 2, p. 4). This painting was acquired by Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1916, soon after its execution, and was subsequently exhibited at the Durand-Ruel galleries in New York in 1917 and 1920. Durand-Ruel had been one of the most influential advocates for the Impressionists, and developed a particularly close relationship with Renoir. This longstanding partnership was profitable enough to enable Renoir to travel to Algeria in the early 1880s and later to acquire the home in Cagnes, where the present work was executed.

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