This work will be included in the catalogue critique being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute from the François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein archives.
Henri Canonne, Paris (Galerie Charpentier, Paris, sold: February 18, 1939, lot 42)
M. Knoedler & Co., New York
Gioconda King, Palm Beach (bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum in 2004, nonaccessioned)
Painted circa 1900, the present work depicts Gabrielle seated in a moment of repose, possibly between household chores. As the Renoir family's nursemaid and the artist's favorite model, Gabrielle was as much in demand around the house as she was in the studio. Among the Impressionists only Degas and Renoir were interested in portraiture. During his long career, Renoir had painted the portraits of a wide range of sitters, fellow artists such as Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet, affluent patrons such as Madame Georges Charpentier, and dealers including Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard. His own family also sat for him frequently and one can follow the development of his three sons, Jean, Pierre and Claude as they mature from infants to adolescence. As abundant are the images of anonymous models such as the present work for although the models can frequently be identified – Gabrielle above all – these paintings are never attempts to penetrate the psychology of the sitter or to achieve an exact likeness.
With his admiration for the Old Masters and the art of eighteenth century France in particular, Renoir produced numerous figure studies that enabled him to explore the full range of painterly effects. In the present work, the curves of the armchair covered in a green fabric with a red design create a rather noble setting for the model whose sumptuous red dress appears to be harmonized with the brownish red of the background. He has also paid particular attention to the composition, establishing a dialogue between the curves of the figure and the furnishings and the rectangular divisions of the background.
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