Bust of Renoir’s wife Alina by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Bust of Renoirs wife Alina by Pierre Auguste Renoir

Renoir was always interested in sculpture, but his first works – two small statues representing the younger son Koko – were created only in 1907, when the artist turned 66 years old. Renoir was not seriously engaged in sculpture until 1913, and by this time he was already suffering from rheumatism and could not hold clay in his hands. So those two first sculptures remained the only ones fashioned by him personally.

The painting merchant, Ambroise Vollard, found Renoir the assistant, Richard Guinot, a young Spaniard who had previously worked with the famous sculptor Aristide Mayol. Renoir and Gyno worked together from 1913 to 1918 and jointly created over twenty works. Renoir made general sketches of sculptures, on which Gino used to work, and then suggested – in words or pointing out with a long cane – what his assistant should do with the material. He said: “There was a feeling that a hand was attached to the end of my cane.”

Gyno believed that his contribution to the overall work remained underestimated, and after a quarrel he left Renoir. Half a century later, in 1968, Gyno won a lawsuit against the heirs of Renoir, having won the right to be called the “co-author” of the great master. It is noteworthy that, working independently, Gyno did not succeed as a sculptor.

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