Lot 154
  • 154

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

150,000 - 250,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • La Cafetière
  • Signed Renoir. (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 10 3/8 by 8 3/4 in.
  • 26.4 by 22.2 cm


Ambroise Vollard, Paris
Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd H. Smith, Houston (acquired by 1974 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 11, 2000, lot 149)
Acquired at the above sale


Ambroise Vollard, Tableaux, pastels & dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, vol. II, Paris, 1918, illustrated pl. 98
Guy-Patrice & Michel Dauberville, Renoir, Catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles, 1895-1902, vol. III, Paris, 2010, no. 1765, illustrated p. 58

Catalogue Note

Painted with careful attention to light and shadow, La Cafetière presents a rare subject for the artist and is a superb example of Renoir’s achievement in the still-life genre. As was the case for many of the Impressionist painters, Renoir did not need to rely on the trompe l'oeil techniques that had been utilized by artists for centuries in order to render still lifes. Instead, he drew upon his own creative ingenuity and his initial impressions of his subject, rendering it with extraordinary freshness. Renoir once commented on the freedom which he found in still lifes: "What seems to me most significant about our movement [Impressionism] is that we have freed painting from the importance of the subject. I am at liberty to paint flowers and call them flowers, without their needing to tell a story" (quoted in Peter Mitchell, European Flower Painters, London, 1973, pp. 211-12). The perceptual tension between the gleaming metallic surface of the coffee pot and the soft green furnishings of the background in La Cafetière epitomizes the artist's mastery of palette and his expressive yet precise handling of medium.

Renoir’s profound skill of taking the commonplace and transforming such objects into cause for admiration was lauded by Téodor de Wyzewa as early as 1903: "And there are, in all the arts, men of a different kind, who not only see and feel things differently from ourselves, but who, by instinct, feel and see things as more beautiful, with more light, or color, or purity and harmony. Involuntarily, inevitably, they transfigure the objects they perceive; and their works do not give us the impression of reality at all, but ravish us with a mysterious and delightful beauty. All these painters move us only because external things appear more beautiful to them than to the rest of mankind, that is, more bedecked with an indefinable grace to whose allure, sooner or later, we shall succumb. Renoir is one of them" (Téodor de Wyzewa, Peintres de jadis et d'aujourd'hui, Paris, 1903, p. 222).