Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Property from a Private American Collection 
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

Nature morte au melon et au vase de fleurs

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Nature morte au melon et au vase de fleurs
signed 'Renoir' (lower right)
oil on canvas
21¼ x 25¾ in. (53.9 x 65.4 cm.)
Painted in 1883
Dr. de Bellio, Paris.
Ernest Donop de Monchy, Paris.
Paul Rosenberg, Paris.
Alexander Reid, Glasgow.
Mrs. R.A. Workman, London.
The Lefevre Gallery (Alex. Reid & Lefevre, Ltd.), London.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Scott Fowles, New York.
Mrs. Hunt Henderson, New Orleans; sale, Christie's, London, 3 December 1974, lot 46.
Galerie Schmit, Paris (by 1977).
Anon. sale, Christie's, New York, 3 November 1982, lot 3.
Acquired at the above sale by the late owner.
C. Phillips, "French Masterpieces," in Burlington Magazine, June 1922, p. 260 (illustrated).
C. Roger-Marx, Renoir, Paris, 1933, p. 162 (illustrated).
E. Fezzi, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Renoir, période impressionniste 1869-1883, Paris, 1985, p. 93, no. 76.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Renoir, March 1913, no. 26.
London, Burlington Fine Arts Club, Exhibition of French Paintings, 1922, no. 43.
London, Thos. Agnew & Sons Ltd., Masterpieces of French Art, 1923, no. 12.
Paris, M. Knoedler & Co., et Cie., Expositions des peintres de l'ecole française du XIXe siècle, May 1924, no. 24.
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Renoir, May-September 1937, no. 8 (illustrated).
New York, Duveen Galleries, Centennial Loan Exhibition 1841-1941: Renoir, November-December 1941, p. 116, no. 4 (illustrated, p. 26).
San Francisco, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, November 1944, no. 18.
New Orleans, Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, Early Masters of Modern Art, November-December 1959, no. 41.
Paris, Galerie Schmit, Choix d'un Amateur, May-June 1977, no. 64.
Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas Collects: Impressionist and Early Modern Masters, January-February 1978, no. 33 (illustrated).
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute established from the archives of François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein.

We are grateful to Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville for confirming that this painting is included in their Bernheim-Jeune archives as an authentic work.


We are grateful to Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville for confirming that this painting is included in their Bernheim-Jeune archives as an authentic work.

Nature morte au melon et au vase de fleurs is a rare example of the few, isolated still-lifes--flower and fruit compilations--that appear in Renoir's early work. Renoir focused most of his energy into landscape paintings, figural compositions, and portraits, and he spent the summer months painting en plein air alongside Claude Monet in Argenteuil. Their parallel picturesque garden and riverside views from this period are well known, yet both artists also experimented with a range of contemporary still-life styles as early as the 1870s. Renoir noted that Monet's still-lifes were fetching high sums and were sought after by collectors, especially Paul Durand-Ruel. Monet introduced Renoir to Durand-Ruel in the spring of the same year, and one of the first two paintings that the dealer-collector purchased from Renoir was a still-life.

In the present painting, a bowl with an artfully arranged sliced cantaloupe sits on a shiny wood table next to a glass bud vase with three blooms. Characteristics of Renoir's Impressionist style emerge in this scene, such as the loose, fluid brushwork that articulates the juicy slices of ripe melon, and the decoratively checkered pattern that emphasizes the two-dimensional surface of the canvas. The juncture between the melon, table, and background creates a shallow space that jars with the deliberately empty expanse of table at the bottom of the painting. By emphasizing this vacant area, Renoir references and rejects the creation of space through repoussoir, the placement of a large figure or object in the immediate foreground of a painting to increase the illusion of depth in the rest of the picture. The flat color and high vantage point reflect Renoir's interest in Japanese prints, which the painter also encountered through his recent acquaintance Theodore Duret, a wealthy collector and art critic who had a large collection of Japanese prints and artifacts.

Renoir's early still-lifes also manifest the painter's close relationship with Edouard Manet, whom the Impressionists claimed as a source of inspiration and leadership. Manet concentrated on still-life painting with particular intensity from 1864 to 1869, the year that Renoir and his colleagues such as Cézanne, Degas, Monet, Pissarro, and Sisley started meeting with Manet and his circle to discuss art at the Café Guerbois on the Grande rue des Batignolles in the seventeenth arrondissement. Renoir's choice of a melon in a bowl on a dark table in the present work may be a reference to Manet's still- lifes such as Nature morte avec melon et pêches, c. 1866. Indeed, Renoir selected this genre in 1871 to pay tribute to Manet in Nature morte au bouquet et à l'éventail (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), which contains references to his colleague's Portrait of Emil Zola, 1868 (Museé d'Orsay, Paris) and his notorious Olympia, 1863 (Museé d'Orsay, Paris).