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Gabrielle with a rose

Painting, 1911, 55.5×47 cm

Description of the artwork «Gabrielle with a rose»

In the Renoir’s house, there was a joke thrown around a lot: all the maids eventually become models, and the models become maids. Auguste was always surrounded by women who loved him wholeheartedly and took care of him. However, Gabrielle possessed a special place among them: Renoir portrayed the girl more than 200 times, and in some difficult moments of his life, he would simply have died without her.

One day, Renoir had completely remained without models, he no longer left his house, and there was no one to sit for him. He began to persuade Gabrielle to undress. The girl agreed without hesitation, she understood who Renoir was and what it meant to pose for him. Gabrielle arrived at the artist’s house as a 15-year-old girl, when the second child was about to be born in the family. Renoir’s wife Aline Charigot called her, her cousin, to help around the house and look after the children. From that time on, Gabrielle became a member of their family, so devoted and necessary that she only married after the death of her patron, and died in Beverly Hills, where she moved to live next to her beloved pupil, the already well-known director Jean Renoir.

It was she, fascinated by cinema, who took little Jean to watch all films in a row, together they enthusiastically and unanimously recognized cinema as the greatest miracle in the world. And many years later, Gabrielle and Jean worked together on a book about Renoir, long and carefully collecting and putting together a mosaic of their memories.

Specifically for the posing sessions, Gabrielle ordered dresses from the famous Callot Soeurs, who sewed outfits for high society ladies and actresses. In these dresses, Gabrielle reincarnated in the paintings into a Gipsy woman, or a Spanish dancer, or an Oriental beauty. Other time she would put on simple clothes and became a model in everyday family scenes (1, 2, 3).

When Renoir’s wife died and his sons went to war, it was Gabrielle who looked after him, cleaned the palette, put his brush between his stiff fingers every morning and tied it to his wrist with ropes.

Gabrielle with a Rose is one of the most famous portraits of Renoir’s favourite, in her favourite attire, pearl, translucent, which Auguste would paint in several more paintings. The artist minimized his set of colours: only the girl’s skin colour — and the same shades repeated in the background, in clothes, in colours with varying intensity and saturation. The palette grew darker and wiser; the dazzle light of the impressionistic joyful delight warmed up and went into the model.

Each movement brought pain to the artist, he stopped reading to save his eyes for painting, and he stopped walking so that he had strength to paint. When they asked him why he did not give up, Renoir answered quite seriously: “The pain passes, but the beauty remains”.

Written by Anna Sidelnikova


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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Impressionism

Technique: Oil

Materials: Canvas

Date of creation: 1911

Size: 55.5×47 cm

Artwork in selections: 35 selections