DescriptionPIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (French, 1841-1919)
Portrait d'une jeune femme, circa 1868-70
Pastel on paper
17-3/4 x 14-1/2 inches (45.1 x 36.8 cm)
Signed lower left and indistinctly dated: Renoir
Lexington Trust, Beverly Hills, California.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's character-filled Portrait d'une jeune femme stylistically dates to the late 1860s or early 1870s, prior to his adoption of an Impressionist technique, when he was still honing the academic realism of his early training. In 1861, at the age of 20, Renoir entered the studio of Charles Gleyre at the École des Beaux-Arts, after having spent several apprentice years painting decorative porcelain and ladies' fans. A revered member of the "Old Guard" at the École, Gleyre provided Renoir and fellow students Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, and Frédéric Bazille with a strong foundation in academic painting, teaching them how to draw from live models and from classical sculpture and painting; how to master a full tonal range, from light to dark; and how to structure a balanced composition. Such emphasis on linear detail, white-black contrasts (as opposed to color), and a centrally placed figure defines Portrait d'une jeune femme, exemplifying the traditional portraits that Renoir executed during his early career. Indeed, a primary objective as an École student was preparing paintings for Salon exhibitions, and both his Salon entries and private commissions from this period were either nudes or portraits. Like others of his academic portraits, including Mlle. Sicot and Mme. Joseph le Coeur, Portrait d'une jeune femme features a sitter wearing a conservative black dress with a bow at the collar, rather than one of the colorful dresses of his later Impressionist subjects.
Renoir excels in portraits. Not only does he capture the exterior features, but on the features he establishes the model's character and inner way of being.1
Based on the features of the sitter in Portrait d'une jeune femme, it is very possible that Renoir is here depicting Lise Tréhot, his model and mistress whom he painted around 20 times between 1865 and 1872. Renoir met Lise at the home of his artist-friend Jules Le Coeur, who was dating Lise's older sister, and he memorialized her in different guises: for example, in Diana, as a monumental nude, goddess of the hunt; in Lise, as a fashionable Parisienne strolling with an umbrella; in Woman of Algiers, as a reclining, exotically costumed odalisque; and in Bather, as a modern-day nude who has shed her dress in preparation for a dip in a pond. The distinctive facial features of Lise in Diana and Bather especially recall those of the sitter in Portrait d'une jeune femme, notably her wavy brunette hair, oval face, porcelain skin, dark eyes and eyebrows, long nose, and full mouth. By the mid 1870s, Renoir was no longer painting Lise, who had married, focusing instead on Camille Monet, wife of his good friend Claude Monet, as a favorite model. However, Renoir's portraits of Camille, unlike those of Lise, accentuate fractured brushwork and a lighter palette, hallmarks of his next great Impressionist phase.
This painting is registered in the archives of Durand-Ruel & Cie. as an authentic work (photo no. 11629; consignment no. 16232). This lot is accompanied by a copy of a letter from Durand-Ruel & Cie., dated September 24, 2009, verifying the authenticity of this work.
1T. Duret, Histoire des peintres impressionnistes, Paris, p. 27-28.
Estimate: $650,000 - $950,000.
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