The late Franois Daulte confirmed the authenticity of this pastel in 1990.
The infant portrayed here seated in a high-chair, snacking on a biscuit and carrying a rattle, is Jean Renoir, the artist's second son, born on 15 September 1894. He later became a celebrated film director and in 1958 published his memoir of the artist, Renoir, My Father.
This pastel is datable by being closely related to several pictures of this subject executed circa 1895. Just as Degas had done late in his career with his series of dancers and bathers, Renoir was reusing and further developing his subjects in series. There is a similar oil painting of the same title, 1896 (ex-coll. Ambroise Vollard; sale Galerie Kornfeld, Bern, 18-20 June 1986, lot 868). Jean also appears in this costume and pose in the double portrait Jean Renoir et Gabrielle, 1895 (ed. Bernheim-Jeune, L'Atelier de Renoir, no. 134), but instead of sitting in a chair, his nurse holds him in her arms. Jean and Gabrielle are also depicted in an oil painting of 1895 (coll. Muse d'Orsay, Paris). Jean is seen in the same lace headress common to all of these pictures, as he also appears in the great group portrait La Famille de l'artiste, circa 1896 (coll. Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania).
The present pastel appears to have been the immediate inspiration for the most accomplished of Renoir's color lithographs, L'Enfant au biscuit; Jean Renoir, 1898-1899 (Delteil no. 31). In the lithograph Jean is portrayed closer-up, and the chair and his hand holding the rattle were omitted. Because of the reversal of the image that occurs in the printing process, Jean is seen looking to the right in the lithograph.