Charles Deudon, Paris
Baron Robert de Rothschild, Paris
Succession Mme. B. (sold: PIASA- Picard, Audap, Solanet & Associés- Paris, June 11, 1997, lot 76)
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's New York, May 11, 1999, lot 105)
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Among the Bérard family portraits were some of Renoir's most celebrated studies of children, including the study of all four children, Les Enfants of 1881 (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts) and L'aprés-midi des enfants à Wargemont of 1884, Nationalgalerie, Berlin (see fig. 1). Renoir also painted a series of game panels (see fig. 2), flower pieces and mythological overdoor as decorations for the Château de Wargemont. The relationship between patron and artist was unusually harmonious. The Bérard family accepted Renoir as a valued friend; through their wide circle of powerful friends, they introduced him to members of the Protestant and Jewish banking community who commissioned portraits from him.
Described by Mary Cassatt as “a pretty place, an English park, rather isolated” (quoted in Colin Bailey, Renoir Portraits: Impressions of an Age, (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1997 p. 38), the eighteenth century manor house of Wargemont had passed to Bérard through his maternal grandmother. Located only ten kilometers north of Dieppe, the château was an ideal place for Renoir to relax and explore the surrounding countryside and coastline. Renoir had portrayed Monet painting in his garden at Argenteuil in 1873 (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut) and periodically during the eighteen-seventies painted garden scenes with a human presence (La Serre of 1876 and Le Jardin de la rue Cortot à Montmartre of 1876 in the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh). Here the human presence is reduced to two straw-hatted figures seen entering the house in the distance through the bed of standard roses which dominates the foreground. This view of the château, possibly in early spring, shows that the rose bed was relatively small in relation to the building, but by placing his easel close to the border of the circular bed Renoir exaggerated its scale.
Fig. 1, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, L'après-midi des enfants à Wargemont (Marguerite, Lucie, and Marthe Berard), 1884, oil on canvas, Nationalgalerie, Berlin
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