Pensive (La Songeuse) (Translation)
Day Dreaming (Primary Title)
Pensive, 'La Songeuse' (Former Title)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French, 1841 - 1919 (Artist)

Works On Paper
oil on paper on canvas
Unframed: 18 1/8 × 15 in. (46.04 × 38.1 cm)
Framed: 26 1/4 × 23 3/8 in. (66.68 × 59.37 cm)
Completed near the time of the first Impressionist exhibition, Contemplative is exemplary of Renoir’s characteristically free brushwork and daring subject matter during the mid-1870s. The close framing of the sitter’s face and her back-facing position defied the established conventions of portraiture and figured as an audacious innovation in the genre. In several respects, the painting can be seen as a multifaceted exploration of reflection. As the title indicates, the subject of the painting—Nini Lopez, who was one of Renoir’s frequent models—is a contemplative young woman represented in a moment of profound reflection. Renoir’s compositional choices demonstrate his own reflective processes for devising the most effective means of portraying the introspective activity of his sitter. Finally, the model’s gesture and position recall the famous mirrored reflection of the sitter in the background of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s (1780-1867) iconic Neoclassical portrait of Madame Moitessier (1856, National Gallery, London).
Signed upper right: "Renoir"
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon
2019-2020: "Van Gogh Monet Degas, The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", Palazzo Zabarella, Padua, Italy, October 26, 2019 - March 1, 2020

2019-2021: Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, and Their Times: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS, April 4, 2020 - January 10, 2021

2018-2019: "Van Gogh, Monet, Degas: The Mellon Collection of French Art from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts", The Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, March 17 - July 15, 2018; Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22 - September 22, 2019

“French Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon,” VMFA, April 4, 1967-June 5, 1968

“Renoir,” Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, May 30-Oct. 15, 1958.

“Renoir,” Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1933.

“Oeuvres d’Art des XVIII, XIX Siècle’s,” Chambre Syndicale de la Curiosité et des Beaux Arts, Paris, April 25-May 15, 1923, No. 216.

“Grands Maitres du XIX Siècle,” Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Paris, May 3-June 3, 1922, No. 73.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Curator’s Talk: The Reinstallation of the Mellon Collection

The collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts given by Paul and Rachel Mellon constitute an essential facet of the museum’s identity. Dr. Sylvain Cordier, Paul Mellon Curator and Head of the Department of European Art, discusses the reinstallation of the Mellon Collection.

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.