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The model for this painting was Gabrielle Renard (1878-1959), a cousin of Renoir's wife who helped in the running of the household. She also was Renoir's favourite model, her rounded body exemplifying the artist's ideal of female beauty. The treatment of her breasts and stomach has precedents in classical statuary, while the feathery brushwork recalls the style of such old masters as Rubens, Boucher and Fragonard.

August 2004