This work will be included in volume IV or subsequent volumes of the catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles de Renoir being prepared by Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville published by Bernheim-Jeune.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Portrait de béb© was executed in 1878 and is a fantastic showcase of the artist's skills both in the realm of portraiture and of pastel. This picture, which was owned by the French writer Alphonse Daudet, a friend of the artist, is believed to show his son, Lucien, who would also become prominent in literary circles, becoming a friend of Marcel Proust and Jean Cocteau alike. The Daudet family comprised several literary talents and characters: Lucien's brother Léon was also a writer. It was through the salon of Georges Charpentier that Renoir had come to know Alphonse Daudet, and he is ranked among the great conversationalists at the artist's table in the reminiscences of his son, Jean (J. Renoir, Renoir, My Father, London, 1962, p. 234).
The Charpentier salon would result in a string of portrait commissions for Renoir, helping to establish the reputation he still holds as one of the foremost of the Impressionist portraitists. In 1876, Renoir was invited to Daudet's home at Champrosay for the Summer, where the author was writing Le nabab; while he was there, Renoir painted the portrait of the writer's wife now in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Daudet was also acquainted with a number of other artists, for instance Eugène Carrière, who painted his portrait, Edgar Degas, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who was a teacher for Lucien when he himself trained to become a painter.
It is a mark of Renoir's success with the medium of pastel that, only two years after he made Portrait de béb©, the artist would exhibit a pastel showing Lucien Daudet at the Paris Salon (see B. Ehrlich White, Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters, New York, 1984, p. 96).