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Femme en promenade

Femme en promenade
signed 'Renoir.' (lower right)
oil on canvas
16 x 10 5⁄8 in. (40.8 x 26.9 cm.)
Painted in 1890
Octave Dubourg, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 24 November 1903, lot 17.
Jos Hessel, Paris.
Paul Rosenberg, Paris.
Private collection, Le Havre.
Galerie Schmit, Paris.
Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris and New York (acquired from the above, September 1973).
Daniel Varenne, Geneva (acquired from the above, September 1980).
Private collection; sale, Galerie Koller, Zurich, 15 May 1981, lot 5122.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
F. Daulte, Auguste Renoir: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, figures, Lausanne, 1971, vol. I, no. 308 (illustrated).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, Paris, 2007, vol. I, p. 346, no. 305 (illustrated).
Tokyo, Isetan Museum of Art and Kyoto Municipal Museum, Renoir, September-December 1979, no. 21 (illustrated in color).
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.

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Lot Essay

Pierre-Auguste Renoir demonstrated affinity toward portraiture, evidenced by its prevalence in and importance to his oeuvre. He had a range of patrons, and in fact, his success and resultant legacy as an artist is intimately tied to his penchant for depicting women and children. In the Paris Salon of 1879, he exhibited a family portrait of Madame Charpentier titled Portrait de Madame Charpentier et ses enfants. Madame Charpentier was the wife of the publisher of Emile Zola, Gustave Flaubert, and the Goncourt brothers, and this initial work spurred his popularity and resulted in an increasing number of portrait commissions following its public exhibition.
The present work emblematizes Renoir’s interest in representing elegant women “often wearing fantastic hats” (J. House, Renoir, exh. cat., Galeries nationales de Grand Palais, Paris, 1985, p. 255). Here, Renoir illustrates his subject standing stoically in profile in a striking black dress and accompanying hat. He represents this woman with her hands crossed, just having removed her gloves. As the title suggests, while possibly granted posthumously, his subject is on her daily ‘promenade’ outdoors.
The subject’s rich black clothing provides a stark contrast, both to her complexion and to her surroundings. Like many of the women Renoir depicts in his portraits, the subject of Femme en promenade has a cherub-like complexion with soft, delicate features. Her auburn hair is slightly visible beneath her hat and her porcelain skin glows against the dark colors of her hat, dress, and gloves. Similarly, she stands out from the atmospheric background Renoir renders with feathery brushstrokes.
While the background of this work is not entirely discernable, the subject and setting of the painting lends to Renoir’s, and many other impressionist artist’s, attempt to represent modern life. People spent more time outside, wandering the streets and taking in their surroundings. As such, Renoir’s Femme en promenade conveys this emerging idea, as he represents his subject on her outdoor walk.
In addition to formal seated portraits, Renoir displayed a deep affinity toward representing his subjects in outdoor settings. He predominantly displayed a preference for illustrating human figures rather than landscape in his art, though sometimes merged the two. This confluence between portraiture, landscape, and the daily promenade recalls Renoir’s work La Promenade (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Dauberville, no. 257). La Promenade represents many notable qualities of Impressionism and Renoir’s practice—the momentary quality of the female subject’s gaze, the lush nature scene, and the depiction of leisure.

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