Sold with a photo-certificate dated Paris, 2 June 1999 stating that it will be included in the forthcoming Renoir catalogue raisonné.
In early 1875, having spent the previous summer in the company of Monet at Argenteuil, Renoir returned to the capital and took the lease of 12 rue Cortot for 100 francs a month. Situated on a steep, cobbled street in Montmartre, close to the Moulin de la Galette, the building provided spacious studio accommodation and had the added benefit of a large and rambling garden. The following year Renoir executed his famous celebration of the gaiety of the outdoor dancers in Moulin de la Galette (Musée d'Orsay) and the present work bears comparison with some preliminary works made at this time of patrons inside the Moulin - see, for example, the pastel At the Moulin de la Galette in the collection of the National Museum of Belgrade, and V.1256 and 1414. All these works see Renoir working through the challenges set by a formal arrangements of figures sitting and standing around a table.
Renoir's use of pastel in the 1870s reflected an increasing fashion among all the Impressionist group to work in the medium, exploiting its ability to render the fugitve effects of light. At the fourth Impressionist exhibition in 1879, for instance, almost a third of the works exhibited were drawings.