Man on a Stair
Oil on canvas. 167.5x65.3 cm
Source of Entry: formerly in the collection of Otto Gerstenberg, later his daughter's, Margarete Scharf, Berlin.
Transferred from Germany after World War II
Along with its companion Woman on a Stair, this painting served as part of the decoration for the great staircase of the mansion belonging to Georges Charpentier, a Parisian publisher. Thanks to Madame Charpentier, this mansion became a gathering place for the artistic elite of Paris. Renoir came to the Charpentiers' salon quite often and received a number of commissions as a result. The idea behind Renoir's stairway paintings was presumably to show the master and mistress of the house descending the stairs to greet their guests. In the present picture the artist did not set himself the task of executing an exact portrait - the man on a stair reveals a certain resemblance to Georges Charpentier, yet it was not the master of the house who posed for the painting.
In executing his decorative panels, Renoir entered in some sense into competition with the leading figures of official art.