Femme nue couchée (Gabrielle)
This extremely beautiful late nude should take its place in the European tradition of reclining nudes in interior settings seen since the Renaissance in the works of Titian (1485-1576), Rubens (1577-1640), Goya (1746-1828) Ingres (1780-1867) and Manet (1832-1883). This painting differs from Renoir’s nudes celebrating the beauty of the female body in harmony with Nature, as it is one of the few examples in the painter’s oeuvre of a nude in an indoor setting. It is one of a series of similar paintings. In fact, between 1903 and 1907, Renoir produced three large paintings in horizontal format of female figures reclining on cushions. The painting in the Musée de l’Orangerie depicts Gabrielle, whom the Renoirs had engaged her to look after their children, and who quickly became one of the painter’s favourite models. In an interior decorated with a green checked wall hanging, Gabrielle reclines on a couch covered with a white sheet, and leans on a large cushion. Her skin tones are rendered in shades of white and pink, with unrivalled luminosity. There is also a flower in full bloom in her hair. The first painting in the series, dating from 1903, Femme nue couchée [Reclining Female Nude] (private collection) also depicts Gabrielle, while the painting from 1907 represents a different model, a blond Venetian woman. This painting, entitled Nu sur les coussins [Nude on Cushions], is in the Musée d’Orsay.