Bernheim-Jeune & Ambroise Vollard, Paris (acquired in total from Durand-Ruel on November 13, 1917)
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (1933)
M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Aline Barnsdall, Beverly Hills
Stephen Hahn, Inc., New York
Acquired from the above in 1978
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (on loan)
Renoir’s son Jean, who often sat for his father together with Gabrielle, later in his life recalled that the painter shied away from demonstrating his emotions in front of the family, but that his affection for Gabrielle was undoubtedly reflected in his paintings. “Certainly, comparing Renoir’s portrayal of Gabrielle with photographs of her from around the same time [fig. 2], it is clear that he has softened her rather coarse features” (Renoir’s Portraits: Impressions of an Age (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1997, p. 226). In Jeune fille au panier , positioning Gabrielle amidst an abundance of flowers was yet another means for Renoir to flatter his model. Renoir associated the suppleness and fullness of flowers in bloom with the physical beauty of women, and also used flowers as a formal device that highlighted the tones of the model’s flesh.
According to the Durand-Ruel archives, the dealers Durand-Ruel, Bernheim-Jeune and Ambroise Vollard jointly purchased this picture in the midst of the war in 1917. It was eventually acquired by Vollard himself, and the legendary dealer kept this work in his private collection. Given that it was sent to New York in November 1933 for exhibition at Knoedler Galleries, one might presume that it was sold shortly thereafter, possibly to the California collector and patron of the arts Aline Barnsdall, whose name appears on the reverse of the picture. In the catalogue for the Knoedler exhibition, Dr. Albert Barnes, the ambitious American collector, noted the importance of Vollard's choices for personal acquisition, including the present work: "The particular significance of the present exhibition is that it enables the public to see not only what Vollard saw many years ago but what, from his enormous stock of pictures, by the great painters of the past generation, he selected and maintained as an ensemble for his own aesthetic satisfaction." (Introduction to the Knoedler Galleries exhibition of Vollard's collection in November-December, 1933).
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