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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
French, 1841–1919

Mother and Child (Gabrielle and Jean Renoir)

Etching, 1896
Museum purchase, 1941.222

Many of the Impressionists, accustomed to painting directly on the canvas in the open air, were slow to take up printmaking. It was not until 1890 that Pierre-August Renoir, aged 49 and famed as a painter, made his first prints. In the remaining years of his life he executed some 59 etchings, drypoints, and lithographs. His subjects reflected those found in his paintings, most frequently family and friends, children, bathers, and nudes.
Although this print is titled as an anonymous Mother and Child, the subjects are actually Gabrielle Renard, the cousin of Renoir’s wife and governess of his children, and Renoir’s son, Jean. Jean Renoir went on to become one of France’s greatest film directors, making the classic Grand Illusion in 1937 and The Human Beast, a film noir tragedy, based on a novel by Émile Zola.