Renoir liked painting his family involved in their daily activities. Here he rapidly sketched his third son Claude, known as Coco, playing with some small lead soldiers. Jean Renoir recalls how his father loved these lead soldiers They were handed down through the family from Pierre, the eldest son, to Claude, and according to the art dealer Ambroise Vollard, were scattered all over the floor in the painter’s studio.
The indeterminate background is painted with broad brushstrokes, the table and the toys roughly sketched, whereas all the painter’s attention is focused on child’s face and hair. Claude has long hair, as did his older brother. Renoir liked his sons to keep their hair long, supposedly to protect them from blows and falls, but mainly for the pleasure of painting it, "it was gold" he would say.
Provenance: in Renoir's studio on his death; Paul Guillaume (?); Domenica Walter