RENOIR, Pierre-Auguste
(b, 1841, Limoges, d. 1919, Cagnes-sur-Mer)

Yvonne and Christine Lerolle at the Piano

1897
Oil on canvas, 73 x 92 cm
Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris

Renoir painted several versions of the theme of two girls at the piano. The present version depicts the two sisters Yvonne and Christine Lerolle.

Yvonne and Christine Lerolle were the eldest daughters of the painter and collector Henry Lerolle (1848-1929). In this double portrait, Yvonne is on the left at the piano, and Christine, on the right, is turning the pages of the music. At the time the girls were eighteen and twenty respectively. They are shown in the family sitting room, and we can see two paintings on the wall by Edgar Degas which were part of their father’s collection.

Music was important to the Lerolle family, who held musical soirees and regularly invited the composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) into their home. The two sisters married Eugène and Louis Rouart, two sons of the industrialist, painter and collector Henri Rouart. Degas, a friend of the Lerolle and Rouart families, introduced them to each other. Renoir was a close friend of the Lerolles and was particularly fond of Christine. Curiously, and without anyone knowing why, this painting was never part of the Lerolle collection, and Renoir kept it at his home until he died.