Etude pour Oedipe Roi sanguine and pastel on paper 50.8 x 36.2cm (20 x 14 1/4in). Executed circa 1895
PROVENANCE Collection of Ambroise Vollard, Paris. Galerie d'Art du Faubourg, Paris. Collection of Mrs. Silberstein, White Plains, New York (acquired from the above, 5 May 1955). Private collection, Pacific Palisades, California. Thence by descent to the present owner.
LITERATURE A. Vollard, Tableaux, Pastels & Dessins de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, vol.II, Paris, 1918, (illustrated p.84). G-P. Dauberville & M. Dauberville, Renoir: Catalogue raisonné des Tableaux, Pastels, Dessins et Aquarelles, Vol. III: 1895-1902, Paris, 2010, no.2543 (illustrated p.488).
In 1895, Renoir's friend and patron Paul Gallimard, the director of the Théâtre des Variétés in Paris, commissioned him to decorate his home in Normandy with a series of oil paintings. Renoir's friend Mounet-Sully had acted the role of Oedipus on stage and this inspired the artist to base his series on the tragic story of the Greek king who killed Laius, the King of Thebes, and married his widow Jocasta, unaware that he had fulfilled his destiny of murdering his own father and marrying his mother. The dramatic subject was an unusual choice for Renoir who had hitherto favoured idyllic landscapes and softly painted portraits. Sadly the project never came to fruition Gallimard never acquired the finished paintings and they remained in the artist's studio, together with several related drawings.