Limoges 1841 - 1919 Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice
Femme au corsage rouge (Étude de Gabrielle)
Oil on canvas, relined. 30.5 x 28.2 cm. Framed. Unsigned. - Some minor retouches to the margins.
The artist's estate; Claude Renoir, Cagnes; Floyd and Gladys Rockmore Davis, New York (purchased from Claude Renoir in 1932, with hand-written notes to the reverse); O'Hana Gallery, London (with a label to the reverse); Sotheby's London, Impressionist & Modern Art (Day Sale), 24 June 2003, lot 119 (with a label to the reverse); Private collection, Lower Saxony
Montréal 1967 (Galerie Hervé), Auguste Renoir
Bernheim-Jeune, L'Atelier de Renoir, Paris 1931, vol 1, plate 97, illus. 315 (lower part)
Gabrielle Renard (1878-1959), who is portrayed here, was a relative of Aline Renoir, the wife of Auguste Renoir. She had lived in the Parisian home of the Renoir family since she was sixteen, and she cared for the three children there. With the Renoirs' second son, Jean Renoir, she developed a particularly close relationship that would continue until the end of her life. Gabrielle accompanied Auguste Renoir and his family when they moved to Cagnes-sur-Mer, in the south of France, on account of the artist's health problems. It was not until 1921 that she married and founded a family of her own (for biographical details, see Colin B. Bailey, Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an age, exh. cat. Ottawa et al. 1997, pp. 224ff.).
For the painter, the members of his family and his domestic surroundings were of great artistic as well as personal significance. Gabrielle quickly became the painter's most important model: “Une belle fille brune chargée de la garde et de l'amusement des enfants absorbe peu à peu l'intérêt et s'épanouit dans des tableaux où elle joue les premiers rôles, figure ardente, un peu sauvage [...]” (Albert André, in: L'atelier de Renoir, ed. by Bernheim-Jeune, Paris 1931, p. 11). Renoir depicted her in countless seemingly candid portraits which show her reading, sewing or together with the children during her everyday life: thus, for example, in the paintings “Gabrielle et Jean Renoir”, 1895-96 (Dauberville 2057), “Gabrielle lisant”, 1906 (Dauberville 3261), and “Gabrielle reprisant”, 1908 (Dauberville 3266). In addition, she also sat for him within specially arranged scenes, such as “Femme nue couchée (Gabrielle)”, 1907 (Dauberville 3510), or “Gabrielle en Algérienne”, c.1910 (Dauberville 3255), which depicts her as an Algerian in oriental dress.
The present double oil study depicts Gabrielle in bust format, dressed in each case in a red blouse, with her head sunken in concentration. It presumably served as a preparatory work for one of the domestic portraits. The two studies had previously formed the lower part of a larger canvas whose upper half displayed a landscape study resp. a nude within a landscape (cf. Bernheim Jeune, op. cit., plate 97).