The most comprehensive archive auction of chattels belonging to the French impressionist artist Pierre Auguste Renoir’s from his signature polka-dot scarf to a collection of 20 original plaster sculpture maquettes, will highlight an expansive grouping dedicated to the Impressionist icon in Heritage Auctions’ presentation of The Renoir Estate Collection Signature® Auction, Sept. 19 in New York.
The collection is an intimate glimpse inside the personal and professional life of the master painter through a trove of important documents, including his marriage certificate, photographs and letters written to Renoir from friends and contemporaries such as Monet, Manet, and Rodin.
The lots of original sculptural plaster maquettes were created at Renoir’s estate in Cagnes, France, in the twilight of his career. Battling severe arthritis, Renoir collaborated with a young and able-handed artist, Guino, at his dealer Ambroise Vollard’s suggestion. Together, Renoir and Guino selected which drawings and paintings would work as sculptures, and they set to work. Included among the sculptural offerings is likely the auction’s top lot a 72 inch tall original plaster maquette for La Grande Venus Victrix, the Roman goddess. After the opening of the Renoir museum, La Grande Venus Victrix was returned to Claude Renoir (Coco) and placed in the garden at Les Collettes prior to traveling to Canada.
“This museum-level collection is superb in its completeness and reveals volumes about the man and his art,” said Brian Roughton, Managing Director of Fine Art at Heritage Auctions. “It touches every corner of his life and represents the last time this collection will appear assembled ever again. In addition to the personal letters and objects, we’re also thrilled to have the opportunity to offer 20 carefully collected original plaster maquettes, not as vehicles to make bronzes but rather as individual works of art which stand on their own artistic merit. Among the maquettes, Heritage is offering “Coco,” one of the only plaster maquettes that Renoir produced himself, depicting his young son Claude.
The staggering amount of life documents, awards and ephemera includes rarities such as an American Medal of Honor awarded to Renoir at the 1883 Foreign Exhibition and an album of candid family photographs featuring Henri Matisse among other notable artists of the day.
The archive also includes rarely seen objects likely made for the artist’s eyes only, such as a diminutive polychrome ceramic vase and sugar bowl thrown and painted with his father at Les Collettes as Renoir recuperated at after being shot during World War I.
The Renoir Estate Collection Signature Auction sale takes place Sept. 19 in New York