25 February 1841|
Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France
3 December 1919
Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876
Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (US or UK ; French: ; 25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau."
Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir (1885–1952), filmmaker Jean Renoir (1894–1979) and ceramic artist Claude Renoir (1901–69). He was the grandfather of the filmmaker Claude Renoir (1913–1993), son of Pierre.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, the child of a working-class family. As a boy, he worked in a porcelain factory where his drawing talents led to his being chosen to paint designs on fine china. Before he enrolled in art school, he also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans . During those early years, he often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters.
In 1862, he began studying art under Charles Gleyre in Paris. There he met Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Claude Monet. At times, during the 1860s, he did not have enough money to buy paint. Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon in 1864, recognition did not come for another ten years, due, in part, to the turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War.
During the Paris Commune in 1871, while Renoir painted on the banks of the Seine River, some Communards thought he was a spy and were about to throw him into the river when a leader of the Commune, Raoul Rigault, recognized Renoir as the man who had protected him on an earlier occasion.
In 1874, a ten-year friendship with Jules Le Cœur and his family ended, and Renoir lost not only the valuable support gained by the association, but also a generous welcome to stay on their property near Fontainebleau and its scenic forest. This loss of a favorite painting location resulted in a distinct change of subjects.
In 1881, he traveled to Algeria, a country he associated with Eugène Delacroix, then to Madrid, to see the work of Diego Velázquez. Following that, he traveled to Italy to see Titian's masterpieces in Florence and the paintings of Raphael in Rome. On 15 January 1882 Renoir met the composer Richard Wagner at his home in Palermo, Sicily. Renoir painted Wagner's portrait in just thirty-five minutes. In the same year, after contracting pneumonia which permanently damaged his respiratory system, Renoir convalesced for six weeks in Algeria.
In 1883, Renoir spent the summer in Guernsey, creating fifteen paintings in little over a month. Most of these feature Moulin Huet, a bay in Saint Martin's, Guernsey. Guernsey is one of the Channel Islands in the English Channel, and it has a varied landscape that includes beaches, cliffs and bays. These paintings were the subject of a set of commemorative postage stamps issued by the Bailiwick of Guernsey in 1983.
While living and working in Montmartre, Renoir employed Suzanne Valadon as a model, posing for him (The Bathers, 1885–87; Dance at Bougival, 1883) and many of his fellow painters while studying their techniques; eventually she became one of the leading painters of the day.
In 1887, the year when Queen Victoria celebrated her Golden Jubilee, and upon the request of the queen's associate, Phillip Richbourg, Renoir donated several paintings to the "French Impressionist Paintings" catalog as a token of his loyalty.
In 1890, he married Aline Victorine Charigot, who, along with a number of the artist's friends, had already served as a model for Le Déjeuner des canotiers (Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881), and with whom he had already had a child, Pierre, in 1885. After his marriage, Renoir painted many scenes of his wife and daily family life including their children and their nurse, Aline's cousin Gabrielle Renard. The Renoirs had three sons, Jean Renoir became a filmmaker of note, Pierre Renoir, became a stage and film actor.
Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of "Les Collettes," a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to the Mediterranean coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life even when he was wheelchair-bound and arthritis severely limited his movement. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. It has often been reported that in the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers, but this is erroneous; Renoir remained able to grasp a brush, although he required an assistant to place it in his hand. The wrapping of his hands with bandages, apparent in late photographs of the artist, served to prevent skin irritation.
In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with those of the old masters. During this period, he created sculptures by cooperating with a young artist, Richard Guino, who worked the clay. Due to his limited joint mobility, Renoir also used a moving canvas, or picture roll, to facilitate painting large works.
Renoir's portrait of Austrian actress Tilla Durieux (1914) contains playful flecks of vibrant color on her shawl that offset the classical pose of the actress and highlight Renoir's skill just 5 years before his death.
Renoir died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, on 3 December 1919.
Renoir's paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. The female nude was one of his primary subjects. In characteristic Impressionist style, Renoir suggested the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of color, so that his figures softly fuse with one another and their surroundings.
His initial paintings show the influence of the colorism of Eugène Delacroix and the luminosity of Camille Corot. He also admired the realism of Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet, and his early work resembles theirs in his use of black as a color. Renoir admired Edgar Degas' sense of movement. Another painter Renoir greatly admired was the 18th-century master François Boucher.
A fine example of Renoir's early work and evidence of the influence of Courbet's realism, is Diana, 1867. Ostensibly a mythological subject, the painting is a naturalistic studio work; the figure carefully observed, solidly modeled and superimposed upon a contrived landscape. If the work is a 'student' piece, Renoir's heightened personal response to female sensuality is present. The model was Lise Tréhot, the artist's mistress at that time, and inspiration for a number of paintings.
In the late 1860s, through the practice of painting light and water en plein air (outdoors), he and his friend Claude Monet discovered that the color of shadows is not brown or black, but the reflected color of the objects surrounding them; an effect today known as diffuse reflection. Several pairs of paintings exist in which Renoir and Monet worked side-by-side, depicting the same scenes (La Grenouillère, 1869).
One of the best known Impressionist works is Renoir's 1876 Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette). The painting depicts an open-air scene, crowded with people at a popular dance garden on the Butte Montmartre close to where he lived. The works of his early maturity were typically Impressionist snapshots of real life, full of sparkling color and light. By the mid-1880s, however, he had broken with the movement to apply a more disciplined formal technique to portraits and figure paintings, particularly of women, as in The Bathers, created during 1884–87. It was a trip to Italy in 1881, when he saw works by Raphael and other Renaissance masters, that convinced him that he was on the wrong path, and for the next several years he painted in a more severe style in an attempt to return to classicism. Concentrating on his drawing and emphasizing the outlines of figures, this is sometimes called his "Ingres period".
After 1890 he changed direction again. To dissolve outlines, as in his earlier work, he returned to thinly brushed color. From this period onward he concentrated on monumental nudes and domestic scenes, fine examples of which are Girls at the Piano, 1892, and Grandes Baigneuses, 1887. The latter painting is the most typical and successful of Renoir's late, abundantly fleshed nudes.
A prolific artist, he created several thousand paintings. The warm sensuality of Renoir's style made his paintings some of the most well-known and frequently-reproduced works in the history of art. The single largest collection of his works—181 paintings in all—is at the Barnes Foundation, in Philadelphia.
In 1919, Ambroise Vollard, a renowned art dealer, published a book on the life and work of Renoir, La Vie et l'Œuvre de Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in an edition of 1000 copies. In 1986, Vollard's heirs started reprinting the copper plates, generally etchings with hand applied watercolor. These prints are signed by Renoir in the plate and are embossed "Vollard" in the old-fashion low margin. They are unnumbered, undated and not signed in pencil.
Two of Renoir's paintings have sold for more than US$70 million. Bal au moulin de la Galette sold for $78.1 million in 1990.
Gallery of paintings
Lise Sewing, 1866, Dallas Museum of Art
La Grenouillère, 1868, National Museum, Stockholm
Portrait of Alfred Sisley, 1868
Mme. Charpentier and her children, 1878, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
By the Water, 1880, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
Portrait of Charles and Georges Durand-Ruel, 1882
Pencil study for Dance in the Country 1883, Honolulu Museum of Art
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "Jeune garçon sur la plage d'Yport" (1883), Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Girl With a Hoop, 1885, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Girl Braiding Her Hair (Suzanne Valadon), 1885
Julie Manet with cat, 1887
The Artist's Family, 1896, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Portrait of Ambroise Vollard, 1908
Portrait of Paul Durand-Ruel, 1910
Portrait of Ambroise Vollard, 1917
Diana the Huntress, 1867, The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Nude in the Sun, 1875, Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Seated Girl, 1883
The Large Bathers, 1887, Philadelphia Museum of Art
After The Bath, 1888
Three Bathers, 1895, Cleveland Museum of Art Cleveland, Ohio
After The Bath, 1910, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
Woman at the Well, 1910
Seated Bather Drying Her Leg, 1914, Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris
Women Bathers, 1916, National Museum, Stockholm
Bathers, 1918, Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia
- Read, Herbert: The Meaning of Art, page 127. Faber, 1931.
- Renoir, Jean: Renoir, My Father, pages 57–67. Collins, 1962.
- Vollard, Ambroise: Renoir, An Intimate Record, pages 24–29. Knopf, 1925.
- Vollard, page 30.
- Wadley, Nicholas: Renoir, A Retrospective, page 15. Park Lane, 1989.
- Renoir, Jean, pages 118–21. Different and less life-threatening versions are offered by Paul Valéry and Vollard. In all accounts, however, their re-acquaintance led to great celebration.
- Wadley, page 15.
- Poulet, A. L., & Murphy, A. R. (1979). Corot to Braque: French Paintings from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, page 117. Boston: The Museum. ISBN 0-87846-134-5.
- Wadley, page 25.
- Wadley, pages 371, 374.
- Wadley, page 28.
- André, Albert: Renoir. Crés, 1928.
- "Boonen, A.; van de Rest, J.; Dequeker, J.; van der Linden, S.: "How Renoir Coped with Rheumatoid Arthritis". ''British Medical Journal'', 1997:315:1704–1708". Bmj.com. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- Rey, Robert: La Peinture française à la fin du XIXe siècle, la renaissance du sentiment classique : Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, Les Beaux-Arts, Van Oest, 1931 (thesis).
- "From the Tour: Mary Cassatt", August Renoir. Retrieved 7 March 2007.
- Clark, Kenneth: The Nude, pages 154–61. Penguin, 1960.
- Asked late in life if he felt an affinity to Ingres, he responded: "I should very much like to". Rey, quoted in Wadley, page 336.
- "For me, Renoir becomes a really great artist in the late nudes, above all in Les Grandes Baigneuses". David Sylvester, quoted by Wadley, page 378
|Renoir, "La Promenade" on YouTube, (1:49) Frick Collection|
|'Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting,' An Introduction to the Exhibition on YouTube, (6:14) Frick Collection|
- Joseph G. Stella (1975). The Graphic Work of Renoir: Catalogue Raisonne. London: Lund Humphries.
- Jean Leymarie et Michel Melot (1971). Les Gravures Des Impressionistes, Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cezanne, Sisley. Paris: Arts et Metiers Graphiques.
- Michel Melot (1996). The Impressionist Print. New Haven: Yale University Press.
- Theodore Duret (1924). Renoir. Paris: Bernheim-Jeune.
- Paul Haeserts (1947). Renoir Sculpteur. Bruxelles: Hermès.
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir Biography, Style and Critical Reception
- Gallery of works
- Suburban Pastoral, The Guardian, 24 Feb 2007
- Avant-Gardist in Retreat, Holland Cotter, The New York Times, 17 June 2010
- Timeline of French Artists
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir at Find a Grave
- Impressionism: a centenary exhibition, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Renoir (p. 179-200)