Henriette was the wife of Robert de Bonnières, a novelist and critic for the newspaper Le Figaro, and was 35 years old when she posed for Renoir.

The painter was at the time the only Impressionist who made a living from his talents as a portrait artist. At the end of the 1870s, when the commercial failure of the Impressionist exhibitions drove him to return to the official Salon, he presented himself as a portrait painter. His clientele was composed of a small group of patrons, mostly bankers, who asked him to paint portraits of their wives and children. Renoir executed these commissions quicker than was usual at the time: three posing sessions were enough for a large half-length portrait. The painter’s prices were therefore much lower than those of the usual portrait painters for the upper middle classes such as Léon Bonnat, Paul Baudry and Carolus-Duran.

Renoir, who was not very satisfied with this portrait, had difficulty capturing the pale face and slender figure, far removed from the ideal of beauty which he was fond of, that of the young girls of Montmartre, with their full figures and ruddy cheeks. In this unusual painting, the daring use of colours and their vibrant touches contrast with the conventional aspect of the setting in a bourgeois home. Other artists from a wide range of styles, including Blanche, Tissot, Helleu, Forain and Besnard also painted portraits of the beautiful Henriette de Bonnières.

I. C.

City of Paris municipal collection's website

City of Paris municipal collection's website

The online catalogue of the Petit Palais collections includes around 35,000 notes and is added to regularly. Some notes have minimal information; others are more detailed. They are illustrated or they will be shortly.

Access the catalogue of the Petit Palais collections
Autre base documentaire

Extern databases

Discover a selection of databases online presenting works from the Petit Palais or documents concerning the history of the museum.