361. Tête de Jeune Fille

Object description
France 1841-1919
Tête de Jeune Fille
Signed R. Oil on canvas mounted on panel, 8 x 5,7 cm.

Enclosed certificate of authenticity by Alex Maguy, Paris, September 4th, 1965
Purchased at Galerie de L'Elysee, Paris, by Mr. Ruben Hüttner, thereafter in the same family until now.

Galerie de L'Elysee, Paris, 1965

Depicted in Ambroise Vollard, Tableaux, pastels & dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1954, vol. 2, p. 92.

As one of the pioneers of Impressionism, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's artistic work is closely intertwined with international art history. His paintings, often filled with vibrant and saturated colors dancing across the canvas, provide a unique insight into French social life around the turn of the 20th Century. As many artists at the time, working as a portraitist remained the main income throughout his career. With untiring interest in his models, Renoir wanted to capture the person behind the physical countenance. 'For no other artist has looked so deeply into his sitter's soul, nor captured its essence with such economy' (quoted in C. Bailey, Renoir's Portraits, Impression of an Age, Ottawa, 1997, p. 1). Through a large number of preserved sketches of women in particular, one gets a unique insight into Renoir's mode of work and constant development.

When examining Renoir's last art dealers, Amboroise Vollard's, archival photograps one finds a number of canvases covered in colored sketches representing various different subjects. Sometimes these small vignettes cover the entire canvas, with white fragments of the canvas emerging between the motifs. These fragmental paintings, executed in oil paint, allowed Renoir to improve his technique and often anticipated the artist's larger paintings depicting landscapes, portraits, or bathers. Like notes taken in the heat of a moment, the sketches depict the artist's spontaneity and inspiration.

As seen in Vollard's book from 1918, this particular painting was part of a larger canvas ensemble, which was carefully cut apart to form individual paintings.

At first glance, the current sketch may look like a momentarily study of shape, color, features and shadows. However, at a closer look, the precision of how Renoir added the brushstrokes to create precise features leaves an almost three-dimensional surface. The casual hairdo and the woman's rosy cheeks alongside her bare shoulders create a natural and intimate atmosphere, where the artist's objective has been to reproduce an image of a woman instead of an accurate reproduction of the model in question. The painting breathes youth, vibrancy and freshness.