Young Parisian is an 1875 painting in the Impressionist style by the leading French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. This work is located in the National Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
The most notable thing about Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Young Parisian is not the painting itself but the crime associated with it. In 2000, this and two other paintings, Another Renoir titled Conversation and a Rembrandt self-Portrait, were stolen from the Stockholm National Museum. At 4:55 P.M., a man pulled a gun on the museum guard and demanded the three paintings. Soon, two more men with guns came in. Before this event, two cars exploded from bombs. This was to create a distraction for the police. Nails were also thrown on the street to burst the tires of pursuers.
Like something from a heist movie, the thieves got away on a speedboat. The boat was found later with no sight of the thieves. It was not till 2001 that the police received a call from a lawyer of the criminals. They demanded a ransom of several million Swedish Kroner for the paintings. The museum declined as they did not have enough money. The same month, the two criminals and the lawyer were arrested yet the paintings were still not retrieved.
The first painting found was Renoir’s Conversation which was found during a drug raid. Young Parisian was found five years after the heist in Los Angeles. The FBI found it when investigating a Bulgarian drug syndicate. Soon after the Rembrandt was found. It is unknown exactly why these paintings were chosen. One reason could be that paintings are used for transactions for drugs. Another reason was the worth of all three paintings was equivalent to $50 million.
The Young Parisian and the others are back at the Swedish National Museum where it can still be seen. Renoir was one of the developers of the Impressionist style. He started in music, but his parents could not continue to afford lessons. He then worked at a porcelain shop, where he would paint porcelain designs. He would go to the Louvre during his breaks from the factory. This is what started his interest in painting.
He joined an art school where he would meet artists such as Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille, and Claude Monet. After a trip to Italy, he would eventually stray from the Impressionistic style. There he saw the Renaissance masters. Renoir stated, “I had gone as far as I could with Impressionism, and I realized I could neither paint nor draw”. Renoir is known for capturing female sensuality. In many of his paintings, the women are not based on a specific person but on a type of person.
An alternative name for this painting is La grisette which was a term referring to a working-class woman. It was typical for models of artists to be working-class women if it was not a portrait. The word grisette also refers to looseness and vanity. This painting has an interesting story connected to it and a mystery behind who the model was. There is not much known about it. The crime story elevated this painting from obscurity.