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    Description

    PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919)
    Gabrielle en Rouge, 1903
    Oil on canvas
    16 x 13 inches (40.6 x 33.0 cm)
    Signed lower left: Renoir

    PROVENANCE:
    Ambroise Vollard, Paris;
    Joseph Hessel, Paris;
    Knoedler & Co., New York;
    Sam Salz, New York;
    Christie's, New York, October 31, 1978, lot 14;
    Acquavella Galleries, Inc., New York;
    Sotheby's, New York, Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale including Important Russian Paintings, November 5, 2008, lot 148 (labels verso);
    Collection of Lois and the Honorable Frank R. Lautenberg, West Orange, New Jersey.

    EXHIBITED:
    Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, "Portraits de Gabrielle", 1935.

    NOTE:
    This work will be included in the Catalogue Critique Pierre-Auguste Renoir being prepared by the Wildenstein Institute from the François Daulte, Durand-Ruel, Venturi, Vollard and Wildenstein archives.

    Gabrielle en Rouge numbers among Pierre-Auguste Renoir's nearly 200 paintings of Gabrielle Renard, his favorite model during the last two decades of his life. A distant cousin of Renoir's wife, Aline, Gabrielle had moved in 1894 at age fifteen from the small town of Essoyes to Paris to assist the family as a housekeeper and nanny. Arriving one month before the birth of Jean, Gabrielle remained a fixture of the Renoir household for nineteen years, raising Jean and his brother, Claude, before marrying the American painter Conrad Slade. Gabrielle's statuesque form inspired Renoir to return to classicism; he memorialized her not only as a loyal caregiver, in such paintings as the monumental Artist's Family (1896), but also, in later works, as an eternal nude.

    In Renoir, My Father, Jean reminisces often about his nanny Gabrielle, whom he nicknamed "Bee-bon," capturing the complexity of her personality that so entranced Renoir when he painted her. Gabrielle was first and foremost strong and independent: "At [age] ten she could tell the year of any wine, catch trout with her hands without getting caught by the game warden, tend the cows, help to bleed the pig, [and] gather greens for the rabbits."1 She was also extremely nurturing and maternal, nursing Jean back to health from a bronchitis episode, ever carrying him through the streets of Montmartre while running errands, and telling him stories about his infancy at the Château des Brouillards. Not least, Gabrielle was unabashed in her sensuality: "My mother finally had the idea of getting Gabrielle as a substitute [model]. [Gabrielle] had just turned twenty and she was in the flower of youth. She was so accustomed to seeing her friends pose in the nude that she took the suggestion as a matter of course. She had already appeared in countless pictures, but always fully clothed and always with me."2

    The current lot, Gabrielle en Rouge, from 1903, perfectly embodies these varied, sometimes contradictory qualities of Renoir's nanny-model. As in many of his single portraits of her, Renoir suggests her inner and physical strength by fashioning her as a sturdy triangular shape that dominates the composition. He also accentuates her boldness with a red blouse, his usual color for her. At the same time, Renoir features her with the same soft and downcast gaze that she exhibits in paintings with young Jean, where she is tenderly holding him, focused on her maternal role. The intimacy of these "nanny paintings" and of Gabrielle en Rouge derives in part from the up-close vantage point of the subject. Here, Renoir additionally hints at Gabrielle's naturalness and abandon - her casual posture and unfurling strands of hair, despite her otherwise buttoned-up appearance -- which he commonly translated into his paintings of her as a nude bather. Ultimately, Gabrielle epitomized what Jean described as Renoir's ideal model: "He wished his models to be relaxed in mind as well as body. Their gift of serenity was probably another reason why he took so much pleasure in painting women."3

    1J. Renoir, Renoir, My Father, Boston, 1958, p. 285.
    2Ibid., p. 391-2.
    3Ibid., p. 392.





    Condition Report*: Original canvas, stretchers and has not been lined; minor non-obtrusive craquelure in the top of the bun of the figure's hair; under UV exam, spot of cosmetic in-painting to address .75 x .25-inch surface scratch in sitter's red dress near center lower edge; signature contemporary with painting; overall surface of the painting is stable and in very good condition; Framed Dimensions 25.5 X 22.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2012
    15th Thursday
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