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Young Woman in Black, c. 1875-1877

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

French, 1841-1919
Oil on canvas
13-1/8 x 10 in. (33.3 x 25.4 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Like his Impressionist colleagues, in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was dedicated to capturing Paris and its modern inhabitants on his canvases. Working toward his well-known, multi-figured compositions, such as Ball at the Moulin de la Galette (1876) and Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880–81), Renoir made dozens of small facial studies of his friends and colleagues, which he often gave away to various members of his inner circle. Young Woman in Black is one such work, an elegant and perceptive consideration of a young parisienne. Although the sitter’s identity is not known, her large eyes, petite nose and round face appear in several of Renoir’s works at this time. Her “look” was typical of both the artist’s tastes and of the consummate young bourgeois female. Sparkling earrings and a brooch attest to her elevated class status. With a fabric daisy perched atop her fashionable hat, this young woman is ready to take to the stylish streets of Paris.

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