“The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself, carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion; it is the current which he puts forth which sweeps you along in his passion.” ― Pierre-Auguste Renoir
This painting holds special significance to me
I know a relative of the two people in this painting. About five months ago I had brunch in Oregon with a very interesting woman who is the daughter of the little boy (yes, it is a boy) who is sitting on his mother’s lap in this Renoir oil painting. The woman I met (name withheld) is the friend of a friend I was travelling with. The woman in this painting would of course be her grandmother. Her grandparents were friends with Renoir. Her grandfather and his brother were established art dealers for the first generation of impressionists. So I looked up the painting which hangs in the Musée d’Orsay and thought I would share it with you.
About the painting:
Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Mrs Josse Bernheim-Jeune and her son Henry – 1910 Oil on Canvas H. 92,5; W. 73,3 cm Paris, Musée d’Orsay
The model for this painting was Mathilde Adler (1882-1963). In 1901 she married her cousin, Josse Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1941) while her sister Suzanne (1883-1961) married his brother Gaston (1870-1953). For several years the Bernheim-Jeune brothers had been established as dealers for the first generation of Impressionists.
They had already turned to Renoir for a portrait of the two young fiancées, in September 1901. In 1910, he was approached once again. At his country property, Les Collettes, near Cagnes-sur-Mer, Renoir painted for Josse a portrait of his wife and their son Henry Dauberville (1907-1988).
THE BERNHEIM-JEUNE STORY
Extract of the article dedicated to Bernheim-Jeune in the Larousse Encyclopedia:
ʺBernheim-Jeune (said Bernheim), art dealer’s family native of Besançon which can be traced from the late XVIIIth century at the head of a business of painting supplies (frames and colours for the artists).
Succeeding Joseph Bernheim (1799 1859), his son Alexandre Bernheim (1839-1915) friend of Delacroix, Corot and Gustave Courbet, came to settle down in Paris in 1863, settled down at 8 rue Lafitte (on the advice of his fellow countryman of Besançon, G. Courbet). This is where Alexandre Bernheim presents the impressionists in 1874. Transferred in 1906 to 25 boulevard de la Madeleine and 15 rue Richepanse, the Bernheim gallery takes its real development under the supervision of Alexandre Bernheim’s sons, Josse Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1941) and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1953). They organise (in particular) in 1901, the first Van Gogh exhibition, present Bonnard and Vuillard in 1906, Cézanne and Cross (1907), Seurat and Van Dongen (1908), Matisse (1910), Boundin, the ʺItalian Futuristsʺ (1912), Le douanier Rousseau (1916), R.Dufy and Vlaminck (1921), Modigliani (1922), Utrillo (1923), Marquet (1925), Gauguin (1930), having settled down avenue Matignon (1925)ʺ.
“Bernheim-Jeune indeed, is the first gallery to settle down avenue Matignon (at the corner of avenue Matignon and rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré). Its new places were inaugurated by Gaston Doumergue, President of the French Republic, for the opening of the exhibition: ʺMasterpieces of the XIXth and XXth Centuryʺ.
“I have arrived more definitely than any other painter during his lifetime; honours shower upon me from every side; artists pay me compliments on my work; there are many people to whom my position must seem enviable…. But I don’t seem to have a single real friend!” ― Pierre-Auguste Renoir