Gabrielle with Jean and a Little Girl - by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Originally belonging to Paul Cezanne, this canvas provides the most youthful portrait, in our collection, of Gabrielle. She is regarded with a special kind of affection by art lovers the world over: she seems like an old acquaintance, for her rosy-cheeked peasant face and her figure, luscious as ripe fruit, appear in many of the loveliest canvases of Renoir's later years. Shortly after the birth of the artist's second son, Jean (the famous motion-picture director), in 1893, Gabrielle was hired as his nurse - but not until she had met Renoir's usual basic condition for employment in his household: that she have a skin that "takes the light." How well she fulfilled this condition, the world knows.

Here, a girl of about fifteen, Gabrielle assumes, for the purposes of the picture, an aspect of womanhood only occasionally treated by Renoir: a mother-and-child relationship. It is an old theme in art; and if an immediate religious significance is lacking in this canvas, it is humanly more touching than many a religious picture.