Madame Georges Charpentier (Marguérite-Louise Lemonnier, 1848-1904) and Her Children, Georgette-Berthe (1872-1945) and Paul-Emile-Charles (1875-1895), 1878. Auguste Renoir. Oil on canvas. Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1907.
In this commissioned portrait, as Marcel Proust observed, Renoir gave expression to "the poetry of an elegant home and the beautiful dresses of our time." In the Japanese-style sitting room of her Parisian townhouse—the décor and chic gown testifying to her stylish taste—Marguerite Charpentier sits beside her son, Paul. At age three, his locks are still uncut and, in keeping with current fashion, he is dressed identically to his sister Georgette, perched on the family dog. The well-connected publisher's wife, who hosted elite literary salons attended by such writers as Flaubert, the Goncourts, and Zola, used her influence to ensure that the painting enjoyed a choice spot at the Salon of 1879.