Auguste Renoir

Nude on a Couch


Not on display

Auguste Renoir 1841–1919
Original title
Femme nue sur un canapé
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 544 × 653 mm
frame: 832 × 935 × 118 mm
Bequeathed by Mrs A.F. Kessler 1983

Display caption

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.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

T03573 Nude on a Couch 1915

Oil on canvas 21 3/8 × 25 3/8 (518 × 652)
Inscribed ‘Renoir.’ b.l.
Bequeathed by Mrs A.F. Kessler 1983
Prov: Ambroise Vollard, Paris (purchased from the artist); Reid and Lefevre; Mrs Kessler 1938
Exh: Corot to Cézanne, Lefevre Gallery, June 1936 (43, as ‘Nu à la Méridienne’ c.1914); The 19th Century French Masters, Lefevre Gallery, July–August 1937 (38); Twentieth Century French Masters, Whyte Gallery, Washington, D.C., November–December 1938 (II); Milestones in French Painting, Lefevre Gallery, June 1939 (38); French Paintings from the Kessler Collection, York Art Gallery, May 1948 (10, as ‘Gabrielle’); Renoir, Lefevre Gallery, June 1948 (33, repr.); The Kessler Collection, Wildenstein Gallery, October–November 1948 (27); The Kessler Bequest, Tate Gallery, February–April 1984 (not numbered, col.)
Lit: Ambroise Vollard, Tableaux, Pastels et Dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paris, 1918, 1, no.498, repr. p.125 with the date 1915 and listed p.180 as ‘Femme nue sur un Canapé’; Burlington Magazine, LXXIII, 1938, advertisement supplement to December issue, pl.15

Although this picture has usually been known since at least 1936 as Nu à la Méridienne' (Nude having a Siesta), it was reproduced by Vollard in 1918 with the title of which an English translation is used here.

The model was Gabrielle Renard (1878–1959), a cousin of Mme Renoir's from Essoyes, who joined the Renoir household in the summer of 1894 to help Mme Renoir, who was then expecting her second child. She later combined the duties of being in charge of the housework with those of serving as Renoir's favourite model, including often posing for him in the nude from the age of twenty onwards.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1982-84: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1986


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