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Léonard Renoir, The Artist’s Father

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841–1919
Oil on canvas
Made in
Western Europe, France, Europe
Current Location
On View, Gallery 217
24 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. (62.2 x 47 cm)
framed: 31 15/16 x 25 13/16 x 3 1/4 in. (81.1 x 65.6 x 8.3 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
Painted when the artist was twenty-eight, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s work represents his seventy year-old father, who was a tailor from Limoges in the south-west of France. In contrast to his later work, the artist’s palette here is restrained, focusing on nuanced shades of black and white, offset by pink flesh tones. This work was painted when Renoir, in difficult financial circumstances, was living with his parents and suggests his father’s stern personality
- 1917
Pierre Renoir (1885-1952), Paris, France, acquired from the artist [1]

1917 - c.1933
Ambroise Vollard (1867-1939), Paris, France, purchased from Pierre Renoir [2]

Bignou Gallery, Inc. (Etienne Bignou), Paris, France, and M. Knoedler & Co., New York, NY, USA (owned jointly), acquired from Ambroise Vollard [3]

1933 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from M. Knoedler & Co. [4]

The main source for this provenance is the 1971 catalogue raisonné on Renoir [Daulte, François. "Auguste Renoir: Catalogue Raisonné de l'Oeuvre de Peint," Vol. 1: Figures 1860-1890. Lausanne: Éditions Durand-Ruel, 1971, cat. 44].

[1] Both the 2007 Renoir catalogue raisonné and a 1999 exhibition catalogue indicate that the work was originally with the Renoir family, and list Ambroise Vollard as owning it in 1917 – having purchased it from the artist's son, Pierre Renoir, on December 10, 1917 [Dauberville, Guy-Patrice, and Michel Dauberville. "Renoir 1858-1881: catalogue raisonné des tableaux, pastels, dessins et aquarelles." Paris: Éditions Bernheim-Jeune, 2007, cat. 531; Johnston, Sona. "Faces of Impressionism: Portraits from American Collections." Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1999, cat. 54]. A 1925 publication by Ambroise Vollard lists the painting as from the Pierre Renoir collection, Paris [Vollard, Ambroise. "Renoir, An Intimate Record." New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1934 (originally published 1925), p. 236].

[2] Ambroise Vollard was Renoir's dealer; he acquired the painting directly from Pierre Renoir (see note [1]). Many portraits of the Renoir family were once owned by Vollard [Raeburn, Michael, ed. "Renoir." London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1985, cat. 11]. This painting was included in the 1933 exhibition of the Vollard collection held at Knoedler Galleries ["Paintings from the Ambroise Vollard Collection, XIX-XX Centuries." New York: Knoedler Galleries, November - December, 1933, cat. 22].

[3] The invoice from M. Knoedler & Co. dated January 2, 1934 indicates that the painting is from the Ambroise Vollard Collection [SLAM document files]. An article about the 1933 exhibition of the Vollard collection (see note [2]) indicates that M. Knoedler & Co. and Etienne Bignou recently acquired the pictures in the exhibition from Vollard ["Collection of Vollard, 'Columbus of Modern Art,' Is Shown Here." "The Art Digest" vol. 8, no. 4 (November 15, 1933):p. 7]. Neither the catalogue raisonné nor the invoice from M. Knoedler & Co. includes Bignou in the provenance for this painting. The 1999 exhibition catalogue (see note [2]) is the only other source which includes Bignou in the provenance for this work.

[4] Per invoice from M. Knoedler & Co. (see note [3]). Minutes of the Administrative Board of Control of the City Art Museum, December 14, 1933.
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