Her face was immortalised by the genius of Renoir and for many years she was his favourite model. The life of Gabrielle Renard is a novel in its own right. Her story begins in 1894, when as a young girl she leaves her native region of Champagne and becomes a maid in Paris in the Renoir home.
Her simple but radiant beauty soon leads to her posing for the painter. She is also nanny to little Jean and plays a major role in his upbringing. Renoir captures these fugitive and graceful instants of complicity and tenderness on his canvases. She accompanies the family on their travels and peregrinations and rubs shoulders with other great artists, including Manet and Berthe Morisot.
Such is Gabrielle’s life for more than twenty years. She is always available when the master needs her for his portraits, always admiring of the artist, and she becomes increasingly knowledgeable about art. When Renoir, who is now very famous but growing old, falls ill, his muse becomes his nurse. In the privacy of these fragile instants, she will discover the painter’s secret.