Art Models and Renoir. Jeanne Samary (1)
In 1878, Renoir painted another portrait of Jeanne in full-length and in a beautiful evening gown with a huge train and exhibited it in the Salon of 1879.
The portrait was placed in the fifth room, and too high for the public to appreciate it according to merit.
Renoir painted Jeanne as an astonishing beauty. Her reddish hair frames the face with amazing blue eyes and fine lines of the nose and lips.
‘Renoir created the image of the Parisienne,' commented Renoir's friend, the painter Cezanne. The artist transformed a "stout, pink and merry" actress into a harmonious and majestic fashionable lady. But the public didn't notice the painting. Some of the critics mentioned "an entertaining portrait".
Disappointed, Jeanne wouldn't purchase the portrait, and it remained in Renoir's studio.
A couple of years later, the French art dealer Durand-Ruel tried to sell it, in vain though. Renoir resented:"They simply do not understand, this is some sort of optical illusion!"
Finally, Durand-Ruel bought the portrait and resold it to Prince de Polignac with a minimal profit of 200 francs.
It is suggested that Jeanne could be also a model for Renoir's "Girl with a Fan", "Swing" and "Young Woman Braiding Her Hair". Jean Renoir claims that she also posed for the "Luncheon of the Boating Party" covering her ears at upper right side of the canvas, which is doubtful as Samary was a successful and prominent actress and later a respectfully married woman and never a jobbing model.
Gradually, their relationship came to an end. Jeanne modeled for other good painters. Soon her sensational romance with Paul Legarde began. Paul was a son of a wealthy stockbroker, who had opposed the match and initiated legal proceedings to prevent the wedding from taking place. Paul's parents didn't even attend the ceremony at the Trinity Church. The couple had three daughters. The first died at the age of 6 months, two other daughters of Jeanne also became actresses and married to theatre directors.
In September of 1890 Jeanne came to Trouville to join her husband and daughters and was diagnosed with typhoid fever. She was rushed back to Paris and died in her apartment, aged 33. Two thousand mourmers, including the staff of all theatres in Paris, accompanied her coffin to the Saint Roch Church.
Paul Legarde outlived his wife for 13 years. The portrait of Jeanne by Renoir hung in his apartment till his death. The family members sold it to Durand-Ruel for 13,300 francs. Later Durand-Ruel resold it to the rich Russian merchant and philanthropist Ivan Morozov. The painting is now in the collection of the Hermitage, in Saint Petersburg.
Next: Art Models and Renoir. Aline Charigot
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Art Models and Renoir. Lise Trehot
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