La Parisienne by Pierre Auguste Renoir



Title

La Parisienne

Artist

Pierre Auguste Renoir

Ref EG163
Type Print
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Description  
In 1874 this painting was included in the first Impressionist exhibition. The sitter was Madame Henriette Henriot, who, at the time of the sitting, was sixteen years old and unknown. However, she later acted at the Odéon from 1863 to 1868. Renoir often used her as a model, and she is known to have appeared in at least eleven other paintings of his. By giving the painting the title ‘La Parisienne’, he indicated that it represents a type, rather than a particular individual. Originally the background had as its background a doorway in the upper left and a curtain at the upper right, but these were subsequently painted out by Renoir before its first exhibit. This leaves the central figure almost floating in a neutral space, uncluttered by detail. The non-descript background of blue, mauve and yellow-grey adds significantly to the final appearance of the work. The paint on the background is far thinner and more loosely brushed than the more detailed and layered central figure. The work of the hair against the hat, the earrings and above the earrings, as well as the upper eyelashes appear to have been added after the painting had received its varnish layer. A reviewer of the 1874 exhibition wrote: “The toe of her ankle boot is almost invisible, and peeps out like a little black mouse. Her hat is tilted over one ear and is dangerously coquettish… The smile is false and the face is a strange mixture of the old and the childish. But there is still something naïve about her. One gets the impression that this little lady is trying hard to look chaste. The dress, which is extremely well painted, is a heavenly blue.” Formerly in the distinguished collection of Henri Rouart, a friend of Degas, where it was admired by artists such as Paul Signac, this work was purchased by Gwendoline Davies in 1913 and is now on display in the National Museum Wales.