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Gallery Text

This is one of two pendant portraits that Renoir painted of his elder brother, Pierre Henri, and his wife, Blanche-Marie Blanc (1841–1910?). When paired, the sitters look across at each other in the “en regard” format; Pierre Henri gazes to the right, and Blanche-Marie to the left. The paintings are set in a lush Parisian interior, which highlights the sitters’ comfortable bourgeois status. Blanche-Marie holds her left hand across her breast, evoking the pose of the Medici Venus, a famous ancient sculpture; she prominently displays her wedding band in a deferential gesture toward her husband. Renoir’s use of thin, broken brushstrokes adds a sense of motion to this engaging portrait. Seven years after the portraits were completed, Pierre Henri retired and the couple moved to the country. The paintings entered the art market separately, before the death of either sitter, and at a time when Renoir had already achieved artistic acclaim.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French (Limoges 1841 - 1919 Cagnes)
Madame Pierre Henri Renoir (Blanche-Marie Blanc)
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Countess Edmond de Pourtalès (née Mélanie de Bussière)
Work Type
Persistent Link
Level 2, Room 2710, North Arcade
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Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
81.3 x 64.8 cm (32 x 25 1/2 in.)
framed: 105.2 x 89 cm (41 7/16 x 35 1/16 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: A Renoir 70
Gaston-Alexandre Camentron, Paris, France, sold; [to Durand-Ruel (1896-1906) sold]; to Adrien Hébrard, Paris, (1906), sold; [to Durand-Ruel, Paris, October 24, 1906- August 5, 1912) sold]; [to Galerie Thannhauser, 1912 - ?]. Oscar Schmitz, Dresden, ( by 1920 -1933); by descent to his son Edward A. Schmitz, Dresden (1933-1936?) sold; [through Wildenstein & Company, New York, NY, 1937, sold]; to Grenville Lindall Winthrop (1937 - 1943), New York, NY, bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

Published by Scheffler 1920 as in Schmitz collection. When he left Germany in 1931, Oscar Schmitz took his collection to Switzerland. After his death, his son made arrangements to sell the collection.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Vittorio Pica, Gl'Impressionisti Francesi, Istituto Italiano d'Arti Grafiche (Bergamo, Italy, 1908), repr. p. 82

Julius Meier-Graefe, Auguste Renoir, Mit hundert Abbildungen, R. Piper & Co Verlag (Munich, Germany, 1911), repr. p. 36

Julius Meier-Graefe, Auguste Renoir, Henri Floury (Paris, France, 1912), repr. p. 33

George Biermann, "Die Kunst auf dem Internationalen Markt", Der Cicerone (May 1913), p. 326, no. 22

Karl Scheffler, "Die Sammlung Oskar Schmitz", Kunst und Künstler (1920 - 1921), p. 186

M. Dormoy, "La Collection Oskar Schmitz", L'Amour de l'Art (1926), p. 342

Julius Meier-Graefe, Renoir, Klinkhardt & Biermann (Leipzig, Germany, 1929), repr. p. 41, no. 23

Collection Oskar Schmitz, exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich (Zurich, Switzerland, 1932), no. 46, p. 8

The Oskar Schmitz Collection, exh. cat., Wildenstein & Company (Paris, France, 1936), no. 49, p. 108

Walter Pach, ed., Pierre Auguste Renoir, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1950), repr. p. 39

René Huyghe, L'Art et l'âme, Flammarion (Paris, France, 1960), repr. in color pl. V

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), p. 130, repr. p. 131, no. 92

François Daulte, Auguste Renoir: catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Editions Durand-Ruel (Lausanne, Switzerland, 1971), vol. 1, no. 62, repr. b/w facing page and p. 417

Elda Fezzi, L'Opera Completa di Renoir nel periodo impressionista, 1869-1883, Rizzoli Editore (Milan, Italy, 1972), p. 92, pl. 56, repr. in b/w

Masakazu Yamazaki and Hideo Tomiyama, Renoir, ed. Toshio Nishimura, Japan Art Center (Tokyo, Japan, 1972), repr. in color pl. 21, text p. 113

Edward Lucie-Smith, Impressionist Women, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England, 1989), repr. in color fig. 67, p. 80; text pp. 83-85

Edgar Peters Bowron, European Paintings Before 1900 in the Fogg Art Museum: A Summary Catalogue including Paintings in the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 127; repr. as no. 376

Colin B. Bailey, "Renoir's Portrait of his Sister-in-Law", The Burlington Magazine (October 1995), 137, no. 1111, pp. 684-687, pp. 684-687, repr. p. 685 as fig. 47

Colin B. Bailey and John B. Collins, Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exh. cat., Yale University Press (New Haven, CT and London, England, 1997), p. 272, fig. 115, b&w

Belinda Thomson, Impressionism: Origins, Practice, Reception, Thames and Hudson, Ltd. (London, 2000), p. 106, repr. in color

Impressionist and Modern Art, Part I, auct. cat., Sotheby's (New York, NY, November 9, 2000), repr. as fig. 3

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Yale University Press (U.S.) (New York, 2003), no. 111, pp. 277-279, repr. in color

Stephan Wolohojian, Ingres, Burne-Jones, Whistler, Renoir... La Collection Grenville L. Winthrop, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon and Réunion des Musées Nationaux (Paris, France, 2003), no. 111, pp. 287-288, repr. in color

Guy-Patrice Dauberville and Michel Dauberville, Renoir 1858-1881, Editions Bernheim-Jeune (Paris, 2007), pp. 420-421, ill. p. 421 as no. 398

Exhibition History

Centennale de l'Art Français, [Unknown venue, Saint Petersburg], Saint Petersburg, 01/01/1912 - 12/31/1912

Portraits par Renoir, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 06/05/1912 - 06/20/1912

Die Sammlung Oskar Schmitz, Kunsthaus Zürich, Zurich, 01/01/1932 - 12/31/1932

La Collection Oscar Schmitz: Chefs-d'oeuvre de la peinture française du XIXe siècle, Galerie Wildenstein, Paris, 01/01/1936 - 12/31/1936

Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/23/1969 - 03/31/1969

Master Paintings from the Fogg Collection, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/13/1977 - 08/31/1977

France and the Portrait, 1799-1870, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 12/03/1994 - 01/29/2002

A Private Passion: 19th-Century Paintings and Drawings from the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection, Harvard University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon, Lyon, 03/15/2003 - 05/26/2003; National Gallery, London, 06/25/2003 - 09/14/2003; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 10/23/2003 - 01/25/2004

For Students of Art and Lovers of Beauty: Highlights from the Collection of Grenville L. Winthrop, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/16/2004

32Q: 2710 North Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

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