Woman with a Fan

The actress Jeanne Samary may have posed for this painting in her cheerfully decorated dressing room at the Comédie-Française, a theater in Paris. Yet the image, as indicated by its title, was not intended as a portrait. The informal subject freed Renoir to experiment with composition—the figure occupies a compressed space, a vibrant bouquet competing with her features. She holds an uchiwa fan, reflecting a fascination with all things Japanese in late nineteenth-century France.


Marie-Joseph Paul Lagarde, Paris (d. 1903, his sale, Drouot, Paris, 25–27 Mar. 1903, no. 19, ill., sold to Durand-Ruel); [Durand-Ruel, Paris, Mar.–Apr. 1903, sold to Rosenberg, 10 Apr. 1903];¹ [Paul Rosenberg, Paris, from 1903]; Louis-Alexandre Berthier, prince de Wagram, Paris (in 1913);² H. J. Laroche, Paris (by 1914);³ Jacques Laroche, Paris (by 1937–1938, sold to Durand-Ruel, 20 Dec. 1938); [Durand-Ruel, Paris and New York, sold to Clark the same day, 20 Dec. 1938]; Robert Sterling Clark (1938–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

1. This information is given on the back of a photograph of the painting originally from Durand-Ruel and now in the Clark’s curatorial files. On a label printed with the gallery’s name and address is typed “Stock Paris No. 7330—Photo 4730 / Acheté par Durand-Ruel Paris à Vente / Lagarde le 27 Mars 1903—Vendu à / M. Rosenberg le 10 Avril 1903.”
2. The dates of Berthier’s ownership of the painting are uncertain; a label on the stretcher, however, includes the line “Collection du Pce de Wagram 1913.” It is thus likely that he owned it at some point during that year.
3. In Grosvenor House, Art français: Exposition d'art decoratif contemporarin, 1800–1885 (exh. cat., 1914),  Société des Amis du Luxembourg, 1re exposition des collectionneurs (exh. cat., 1924), and Bernheim-Jeune et Cie, Cinquante Renoir (exh. cat.,1927), the painting is listed in the Laroche collection, with no forename noted. The painting was lent to the 1937 exhibition by Jacques Laroche. François Daulte, Auguste Renoir, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, 1971, no. 360, lists the work first with H. J. Laroche, and then with Jacques Laroche, but does not supply dates, give further identification, or mention the relationship between the two.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

French, 1841–1919

Woman with a Fan

c. 1879

Oil on canvas

25 3/4 x 21 1/4 in. (65.4 x 54 cm) Frame: 33 3/8 x 29 1/16 x 2 1/8 in. (84.8 x 73.8 x 5.4 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1938



Conservation Image - Infrared Reflectogram

The infrared reflectogram shows clear traces of an erased figure just above half-way up on the right side of the canvas. It is impossible to be certain whether this belonged to a first version of the present composition or is the remnant of a previous flase start on the