Models and Muses
Renoir and Lise Tréhot (32) – A well-kept secret
Some believe that not ‘Lise in a White Shawl’, but this ‘Harem’ was Lise’s last appearence as Renoir’s model. The orientalist work became one more disappointment in his sustained efforts to have his work accepted by the jury of the Salon.
During six years, Lise had been Renoir’s favourite model and muse, and although he never mentioned her in later interviews, it is generally believed that Lise also was the mother of two children of his, Pierre and Jeanne.
Pierre was born on December 14, 1868. Some say he died very young. Jeanne, born in July 1870, was given to a wet nurse in Southern Normandy to raise as her own. Renoir met her several times before she married and secretly supported her financially until he died with the help of his friend, the art dealer Ambroise Vollard. After his death, Vollard continued the support. Jeanne died in 1934.
Renoir’s later wife, Aline Charigot, has never known about her husband’s illegimate and unacknowledged children, nor did his sons who, oddly enough, were given the same first names, Pierre and (well almost the same) Jean. Talking about keeping a secret…
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Parisiennes en costume algérien (Parisian Women in Algerian Costume or The Harem), Oil on canvas, 156 cm × 129 cm. The National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo