Blonde à la rose
Renoir painted this portrait of Andrée-Madeleine Heuschling towards the end of his life. She was then aged just 15, 16 or 17, and was Renoir’s last model. "She is so beautiful! I have worn out my old eyes looking at her young skin, and I saw that I was not an old master but a child", he is supposed to have declared. Nicknamed "Dédée", she subsequently became an actress and took the name Catherine Hessling. She married Jean Renoir, the painter’s son, and acted in a number of his films. The portrait dominated by shades of red and splashes of colour, seems characterised by a dilution of forms, typical of Renoir’s later style. The irregular impasto is thick in parts or so fine in places as to leave visible the texture of the canvas. Her face has been meticulously rendered and endowed with great softness. The young woman wears a flower in her hair. Indeed Renoir liked to associate his female figures with flowers. From 1900 on, a rose in full bloom became his preferred attribute for symbolising the woman’s beauty. Paul Guillaume acquired this portrait in 1929 and it remained in Renoir’s studio until his death when it passed to his son Claude Renoir.