Renoir, Portrait of Nini Lopez

Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Portrait of Nini Lopez, 1876, oil on canvas, 54 x 39 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919)
Portrait of Nini Lopez
1876
oil on canvas
54 x 39 cm
© MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
HD image
podcast
Nini Lopez first appeared in the work of Auguste Renoir (1841–1919) in La Loge (The Theatre Box), painted in 1874. The young woman from Montmartre, cruelly nicknamed Nini-Gueule-de-Raie, or "fish face", is shown alongside the artist's brother. Although the artwork was immediately purchased by the art dealer "le Père Martin", Renoir, like many of his Impressionist friends, was experiencing serious financial difficulty at the time. In the spring of 1875, he moved into a new studio on rue Cortot in Montmartre. The painter liked the almost wild quality of the garden, where Nini posed for him regularly. Known for being serious and punctual, the young woman become the artist's favourite model between 1875 and 1879, appearing in at least fourteen paintings.

The Portrait of Nini Lopez was painted in 1876, the year the artist outshone himself in breathtaking compositions such as The Swing or Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette. But at the time, Renoir was also painting numerous intimate scenes and smaller portraits for commercial purposes. The canvas purchased by collector Olivier Senn from Le Havre is very similar to a smaller work, Portrait of Nini Lopez (Blond Profile), in which the young woman is dressed in the same clothes: black and white bodice, green scarf and black ribbon tying back her hair. The model has the same soft features that give Nini her dreamy charm.

The painting, which places great emphasis on the study of light behind the model, was undoubtedly executed near one of the windows that opened onto the garden of the studio on rue Cortot. Renoir was striving to convey the changing reflections of light on the human figure.

A study conducted by C2RMF, the centre for the research and restoration of French museums, revealed that Renoir had taken a canvas already painted—a horizontal landscape—and turned it vertically before enlarging it with two bands. The artwork shows traces of this story—thick brushstrokes underlying the woman's face, an almost sketch-like treatment of the side edges—, and the ensuing freedom of execution lends an extraordinary modern quality to the work as a whole.

In 1877, as Renoir's talent as a portrait artist earned him prestigious commissions with the bourgeoisie, Nini disappeared from his painting following her marriage to a third-rate actor in the Montmartre theatre, much to the dismay of her mother and the artist, who had become her protector, for they had both dreamed of a bourgeois marriage for her. But during the six years she posed for the artist, the young Nini incarnated Renoir's feminine ideal, filled with happiness and joy of life.

Artworks in context : Impressionism (24)

Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), Washerwomen, ca. 1870-1872, oil on canvas, 15 x 21 cm. © Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / Didier Plowy
Alfred SISLEY (1839-1899), The Loing at Saint-Mammès, 1885, oil on canvas, 55 x 73.2 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Portrait of Nini Lopez, 1876, oil on canvas, 54 x 39 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), The Pilots' Jetty at Le Havre, 1903, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 65 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), Waterlilies, 1904, oil on canvas, 89 x 92 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), Winter Sun at Lavacourt, 1879-1880, oil on canvas, 55 x 81 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Édouard MANET (1832-1883), Boats at Sea, Sunset, ca. 1868, oil on canvas, 43 x 94 cmŒuvre récupérée à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. déposée en 1961 par l'Etat ; en attente de sa restitution à ses légitimes propriétaires. MNR 873. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Quay at Honfleur, 1866, oil on canvas, 32.5 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), Snowy Landscape at Crozant, vers 1895, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Claude MONET (1840-1926), London Parliament, 1903, oil on canvas, 81 x 92 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917), After the Bath, Woman Drying Herself, ca. 1884-1886 / 1890 / 1900, pastel on wove paper, 40.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), The Excursionist, ca. 1888, oil on canvas, 61.5 x 50 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Statue of Henri IV and Hôtel de la Monnaie, Morning, Sun, 1901, oil on canvas, 46 x 55 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Seine at Samois, ca. 1898, oil on canvas, 60 x 73 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard
Armand GUILLAUMIN (1841-1927), The Creuse at Crozant, ca. 1893, oil on canvas, 60 x 73.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Johan Barthold JONGKIND (1819-1891), Paris, Pont Marie and the Quai des Célestins, 1874, oil on wood, 23.5 x 32 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Claude MONET (1840-1926), The Seine at Vétheuil, 1878, oil on canvas, 50. 5  x 61.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Quai du Pothuis, Banks of the Oise, 1882, oil on canvas, 46.3 x 55.3 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Sunrise at Éragny, 1894, oil on canvas, 38.3 x 46 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Camille PISSARRO (1831-1903), Crossroads at L'Hermitage, Pointoise, 1876, oil on canvas, 38.5 x 46.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / David Fogel
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Bay of Salerno or Southern Landscape, 1881, oil on canvas, 46 x 55.5 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Woman Seen from the Back, ca. 1875-1879, oil on canvas, 27.1 x 22.1 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Pierre-Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919), Pines at Cagnes, ca. 1919, oil on canvas, marouflage on cardboard, 31.5 x 38.7 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn
Jules CHÉRET (1836-1932), Woman in Black with Muff, ca. 1885, oil on canvas, 33 x 25 cm. © MuMa Le Havre / Florian Kleinefenn