This painting will be included in the forthcoming Renoir catalogue raisonné from François Daulte being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Images of young girls wearing fashionable hats feature prominently in Pierre-Auguste Renoir's oeuvre. John House noted, "Renoir had (as Suzanne Valadon remembered) a particular penchant for women's hats and often had them made for his models" ("Renoir's Worlds," Pierre-Auguste Renoir, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London, 1985, p. 16). Jeune fille au chapeau fleuri exemplifies Renoir's interest in enhancing the charm and youthful appeal of his sitters by adding a hat or other accessory of pretty clothing. Painted towards the end of the artist's life, it presents a startlingly modern approach to his favored subject. By posing the sitter so that her face is turned away from the viewer he is able to disregard facial expression and any connotations of individual personality, which are normally the concerns of a portrait artist. Instead, in making the hat the center of attention, he is free to concentrate on the handling of the paint, the bold palette and the balance of forms and use of space within the composition.
Renoir favored portraying his subjects in profile, going about their daily routines, as if unaware of the the artist's presence. This recurring pose is evident in numerous works from the 1890's onward such as: Tête de jeune fille (Chapeau rouge) (Daulte, no. 644), Tête de jeune fille (Chapeau jaune) (both sold Christie's, New York, 11 November 1997, lots 101 and 124) and Tête d'enfant (sold Christie's, New York, 8 November 2000, lot 10). As the art critic Octave Mirbeau wrote, "He is truly the painter of women, alternatively gracious and moving, knowing and simple, and always elegant, with an exquisite visual sensibility...he also gives a sense of the form of the soul, all woman's inward musicality and bewitching mystery" (quoted in N. Wadley, ed., Renoir, A Retrospective, New York, 1987, p. 165).