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Portrait of Madame Chocquet by the Window

Painting, 1876, 68.5×55 cm
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Description of the artwork «Portrait of Madame Chocquet by the Window»

Marie Chocquet was neither a celebrity nor a socialite. She did not have a salon for writers and artists to gather. But she was married with a man whom Auguste Renoir called “the greatest French collector since the kings, perhaps in the world since the popes”.

Victor Chocquet, Marie’s husband, was a petty official, an inspector in the Customs Administration. He wore clothes wiped off on elbows from dilapidation, ate what he had, lived in a cramped attic. The main passion of Victor Chocquet was painting: he spent all the money he saved on paintings by CorotCourbet and Delacroix. However, it only was until he saw the new painting of the Impressionists.

This meeting was a turning point for both sides. After the first exhibition in the studio of photographer Nadar, several Impressionist artists decided to arrange an auction at the Drouot Hotel hoping to sell at least a few pictures. It was a failure, the paintings were bought because of their frames, the furious crowd hooted and clamoured. The artists barely managed to recoup the cost of paint and canvas. Nevertheless, there was one person in the hall, the meeting with whom was worth such a shame.

After the humiliating sale, customs inspector Victor Chocquet approached Renoir, expressed admiration for his work and immediately asked to paint a portrait of his wife Marie. Once he asked aging Delacroix about it, but he refused. While Renoir, of course, agreed.

He created the first portrait of Marie Chocquet immediately, in 1875. Today, this picture is in the Stuttgart National Gallery, Germany. Two more portraits would appear a year later. Both times Renoir paints Marie at the window of her apartment, at different positions of the model, achieving completely different lighting effects. In one of the paintings, the woman presents her profile to the viewer, her face, white dress and the book she reads flooded with the morning sun. And in the second picture, Madame Chocquet changed from the morning dress to a dark evening one, the sun has made its daily circle from the east to the west, and the soft light falls already from the right, wrapping the model turned to the window with her back into shadows. A little more time to pass before the room is completely dark.
Collecting the oeuvre of Delacroix, buying and ordering paintings from the Impressionists, Victor Chocquet always followed his own taste only. He was not going to scrape up a fortune and resell his treasures when the public would begin to rate them highly. He was the first person to buy paintings by Monet, Renoir and Cézanne, who protected them at subsequent exhibitions.

After 6 years, Victor and his wife came into a fortune and bought a villa in Normandy. After the death of Chocquet, when his collection was sold at the same hotel Drouot, it contained 32 paintings by Cézanne and 11 by Renoir and Monet.

Author: Anna Sidelnikova
from 1450 rub
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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: 1876

Size: 68.5×55 cm

Artwork in selections: 1 selection

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