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

Coco au ruban rose

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Coco au ruban rose
signed 'Renoir' (upper right)
oil on canvas
12 ¼ x 10 ¼ in. (31 x 26 cm.)
Painted circa 1905
Ambroise Vollard, Paris.
Galerie Tanner, Zurich.
Private collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above); sale, Sotheby's, London, 4 December 1990, lot 4.
Sam Porter Fine Arts, Great Neck, New York.
Murray and Irene Pergament, New York (acquired from the above, October 1996); Estate sale, Sotheby's, New York, 9 May 2007, lot 123.
Private collection, California.
Guarisco Gallery, Washington, D.C.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, April 2014.
A. Vollard, Tableaux, pastels et dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1918, vol. I, p. 60, no. 237 (illustrated; titled Tête d'enfant).
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, 1903-1910, Paris, 2012, vol. IV, p. 440, no. 3429 (illustrated; titled Tête d'enfant (Coco au ruban rose)).
New York, Hammer Galleries, Renoir, November 2010-January 2011, p. 52 (illustrated in color, p. 53, fig. 19).

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Lot Essay

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

“Never did he [Renoir] seem to have experienced so much joy as when watching the young child learning through play, filled with light and milk, his rounded contours, his enthusiasms and laughter” -Claude Roger-Marx, 1937

Renoir’s youngest son Claude was born in August 1901, when the artist was sixty years old. Having another child at the autumn of his life brought him great joy and inspiration. Renoir deeply cherished his third son, openly doting upon the boy and devoting hours of labor to capturing his cherubic likeness. He looked upon his infant son’s health and growth as an affirmation of youth and life; though Renoir was at the peak of his career, he had begun suffering from the ailments of old age, particularly osteoarthritis.
The family lovingly nicknamed their youngest son Cloclo, which later became Coco. Almost immediately, he became Renoir’s favorite model, replacing his elder brother Jean. The portraits of Coco serve as excellent documentation of the child's development spanning from infancy to early adolescence (fig. 1). As Jean Renoir recalled: “it was while we were living in the rue Caulaincourt that my father had me pose for him most often. A few years later my brother Claude, who was seven years younger than I, was to take my place in the studio. Coco certainly proved one of the most prolific inspirations my father ever had” (Renoir: My Father, New York, 1958, p. 364).
In the present work, Renoir has depicted Coco staring out intently, his bright blue eyes locked on the viewer. The collapsed sense of space serves to create an illusion of close proximity and intimacy with the little boy. The rosy flush of Coco’s cheeks is emphasized by the similar tone employed in his hair and the collar of his shirt. The fleshy pinks of the child’s face are echoed in the bow which holds his long hair back off his face. Renoir has given great attention to Coco’s face, hair and collar, executing these areas with rich, warm hues and feathery brushstrokes to create a finely built-up surface. The contrastingly loose execution of the background, painted with wide, quick brushstrokes in cooler tones, serves to push the viewer’s focus onto the child’s face, further emphasizing the closeness between the sitter and the artist. Coco au ruban rose is a highly intimate rendering which instantly communicates the artist’s fatherly affections for his child.

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