Painted in 1910, the picture is oil on canvas, with dimensions of 82cms.high x 65.5cms. wide, and is held privately in the Ikira Collection in Geneva in Switzerland. When he painted it, Renoir was suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis, as he did for the last 25 years of his life. His hands were so deformed that the brushes had to be strapped between his fingers and bandages worn to collect the sweat and prevent infection. He could not abandon the creative urge to paint and even direct the making of sculptures. He believed that this helped him to live as normal a life as possible, despite pain and deteriorating health.
The subject here, Gabrielle Renard was his wife Aline's cousin, and nanny to his children. She joined the family at the age of 16, and was the model for many of his works. At the time of completion of 'Gabrielle with Jewel Box', she was 32 years old. The style of the painting captures the essence of the Impressionist movement, though late in his career; it still embodies the translation of light into color, giving a shimmering, atmospheric effect. It is said that he had moved on from the open air paintings which were a key feature of the Impressionist movement, where nature was captured and atmospheric conditions portrayed. This picture would seem to confirm that idea. This is something it has in common with the woman in Gaugin's work under discussion. Not that it is not natural. On the contrary, there is something totally real and comfortable about this young woman in half-undress that speaks of the realism and desire for things to be painted as they were; natural and unimpeded by imaginary additions, just the unadorned truth of what the artist perceived. This premise may be applied, in part, to 'Brooding Woman.'
In order to achieve the effects mentioned earlier, Renoir used only certain colors, and as can be seen, little darkness is present to represent shadows in the background. These are merely suggested by pure and definite color in the foreground. There is chrome yellow, silver white, cobalt, and ultramarine in the necklace she wears, then vermilion and rose, in fact all the colors of his palate. As in the Gaugin, the girl is the focal point, placed within a basic triangular composition, with the arms balanced in such a way as to create a moving elliptical shape. Yet there is nothing angular in any aspect of this three dimensional construction, all is gently curved from her face to her fingers, breast to jewelry box. The circular curving movements are repeated further in the table's leg and front, the mirror's side and Gabrielle's hair, shoulders and legs. The positioning of the arms draws attention to the detailed objects she holds, a flower to pin in her hair, a jewel to be chosen from the box on her lap.
The short, sharp brushstrokes, while creating a luminescent light in the detail of jewelry and gilded dressing table, bring the gown alive, as if it were made of feathers or delicate lace. It suggests luxury, something which Gaugin's woman is totally without. The darkest sections of the picture serve as complementary colors which give the whites, reds, golds and oranges a further vibrancy. Gaugin achieves the same effect, but with more definite use of dark against light. The most outstanding aspect