Pierre August Renoir

(1841 - 1919)
Jocaste ca. 1895
Monogrammed lower right: “R”
Red, black and white pastel on tracing paper 37.5 x 27 cm


Ambroise Vollard
Robert de Galéa, Paris
Paulette Goddard Remarque, Ascona
Galerie Kornfeld, Auction du 23 juin 1983, Kat. Nr. 799
Dr. Peter Nathan, Zürich
Privat Collection


– Fondation Pierre Gianadda Martigny, Suisse
Pierre-August Renoir – Revoir Renoir
20 juin au 23 novembre 2014
P. 205

– Liu Haisu Museum, Shanghai, Renoir in China, from Impressionism to the “cacreous” period, 19.09.15 – 13.01.16


Ambroise Vollard, “Pierre Auguste Renoir, Tableaux, Pastels et Dessins”, Paris1918, 1. Band Nr. 526 (Abb.)
Will be published for band 6 of the catalog raisonné Renoir von François Dault

This drawing is a study for a project of decorative panels that Renoir worked on in around 1895 on the theme of the Greek tragedy, Oedipus the King. The panels themselves were never executed—they were to have been installed in the Théatre des Variétés, whose director was Renoir’s close friend, Paul Gallimard. The project is documented, however, in a number of paintings catalogued in L’Atelier de Renoir by Bernheim-Jeune (Paris, 1931). Four of these paintings represent a figure very close to that of the current sheet; the closest of all is no. 129 (plate 44), titled Jocaste, or Jocasta, the mother and wife of Oedipus (ca. 1895, 96 x 36 cm., now in the collection of the Marubeni corporation, Tokyo: attached). While the angular lines of the figure and the movement of her great cape suggest the graceful energies of dance, Jocaste appears to be portrayed at the fatal moment of the tragedy, recoiling in horror from the knowledge of her and Oedipus’ deeds.

In addition to the present sheet, the Jocasta figure appears in other drawings of this era, notably in a work reproduced in Vollard’s La Vie et L’Oeuvre de Renoir (Paris, 1919) as Scène Antique, and a sanguine in a private collection (Jocaste, Sotheby’s London, July 1, 1987, lot 435: attached).

The unrealized project appears to have been inspired by the enormously influential performances of Sophocles’ tragedy in which the actor Jean Mounet-Sully played the role of Oedipus. Performances ran from 1881 to the late 1890s at the Comédie Francaise.

Inv.Nr. 8054