Most of Renoir’s models between 1875 and 1883 (aside from commissioned portraits) were from the working class—seamstresses, flower sellers, milliners, actresses and dancers at the Moulin de la Galette—who agreed to pose in order to earn a little extra cash. Discussing the prominence of Henriot in Renoir's paintings of this period, Colin Bailey writes: “Between 1874 and 1876 Henriot modeled for five of Renoir’s most ambitious full-length pictures and at least seven smaller works. She appears fully and fashionably dressed in La Parisienne, draped and damp in La Source; seated in the shade with a suitor in The Lovers; in Troubadour costume in The Page, and as the protective elder sister in La Promenade" (C. Bailey, Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting (exhibition catalogue), The Frick Collection, New York, 2012, p. 65).
Renoir's skills as a portraitist are evident in the deft handling of the looser brushstrokes in the background, the chair and the attire of Henriot. The smaller, more precise paint applications on the figure's face center on the eyes and brows, while still preserving Renoir's characteristic light and ethereal handling of the medium. The contemporary critic Théodore Duret wrote of the artist's skill as a portrait painter stating: “Renoir excels at portraits. Not only does he catch the external features, but through them he pinpoints the model’s character and inner self. I doubt whether any painter has ever interpreted women in a more seductive manner. The deft and lively touches of Renoir’s brush are charming, supple and unrestrained, making flesh transparent and tinting the cheeks and lips with a perfect living hue. Renoir’s women are enchantresses (reprinted in Histoire des peintres impressionists, Paris, 1922, pp. 27-28).
Mademoiselle Henriot ou Jeune fille au ruban bleu has important early provenance. One of its early owners was Walter Halvorsen, the noted Norwegian dealer and art critic who brought works by the French Impressionists to Scandinavia. Halvorsen discovered his love of the Impressionists while studying in Paris with Henri Matisse in the early years of the twentieth-century. This canvas later entered the collection of Justin K. Thannhauser in the 1920s where it remained into the 1940s, travelling with much of his collection to the United States. In the 1960s Thannhauser bequeathed the essential works of his collection to Solomon R. Guggenheim's Museum, shortly after it reopened at its new location in the Frank Lloyd Wright building on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
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