Renoir presents himself in this self-portrait as a mature and confident man. He was in his late fifties and well-established as an artist; the flowered wallpaper and his bourgeois clothes allude to a comfortable living. His health, on other hand, was poor, and the intensity of his gaze suggests an incisive investigation of the features of his face in a mirror. Renoir never exhibited this painting, and it remained in his studio until his death twenty years later.
Pierre Renoir, Paris, the artist’s son, by descent (1919–35, consigned to Durand-Ruel, Paris);¹ [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1935–36, transferred to New York]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, 1936–37, sold to Clark, 10 Apr. 1937]; Robert Sterling Clark (1937–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.
1. Information in the Clark’s curatorial file, “from Mr. May, Institute, Aug. 1959,” gives the provenance as “Charles Farrel, Paris (until 1914; sold to May); George May (1914–1926; sold to Durand-Ruel).” This cannot be verified, and, given the evidence that it was in Renoir’s studio (see Bernheim-Jeune, L’Atelier de Renoir, 1931, vol. 1, pl. 59, no. 182) and owned by Pierre Renoir in 1935, it is probably incorrect.