This masterpiece, painted when Renoir was thirty-three and shown in the first Impressionist
exhibition of 1874, can be regarded simply as a glimpse of contemporary life but is in a sense
portraiture also. Renoir's brother Edmond posed for the man, the girl was a well-known Montmartre
model nicknamed `Nini gueule en raie'.
Renoir had already been working in close accord with Monet at La Grenouillere but in this
instance made no special effort at Impressionist innovation, such as might convey the impression of
a theatre by the treatment of light. Nor did he have any scruple about using black, on which
Impressionist theory frowned, deriving its utmost density from Edmond's evening dress and
opera-glasses and Nini's righly stripped attire. All his appreciation of feminine charm of feature
appears in the eyes, the mobile mouth and delicate skin of his female model contrasted with the
countenance of Edmond in shadow. In spite of the beauty and luxurious character of the painting it
found no buyer and Renoir by his own account was only too glad to dispose of it to the dealer known
as le pere Martin for 425 francs. He was adamant in not taking less as this was the exact amount
needed to pay rent due and he had no other resource. But Nini of La Loge was the first of the long
series of portraits that Renoir was able to invest with an inimitable charm.