Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Overview
 
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (rɛnˈwɑr, ˈrɛnwɑr, pjɛʁ ogyst ʁənwaʁ; 1841–1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 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
Antoine Watteau
Jean-Antoine Watteau was a French painter whose brief career spurred the revival of interest in colour and movement...

."

Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir
Pierre Renoir
Pierre Renoir was a French stage and film actor and served briefly as the director of the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris, taking over after the death of Louis Jouvet in 1951....

 and filmmaker Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s...

.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

, Haute-Vienne, France, the child of a working class family.
Encyclopedia
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (rɛnˈwɑr, ˈrɛnwɑr, pjɛʁ ogyst ʁənwaʁ; 1841–1919) was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 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
Antoine Watteau
Jean-Antoine Watteau was a French painter whose brief career spurred the revival of interest in colour and movement...

."

Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir
Pierre Renoir
Pierre Renoir was a French stage and film actor and served briefly as the director of the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris, taking over after the death of Louis Jouvet in 1951....

 and filmmaker Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s...

.

Youth

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges
Limoges
Limoges |Limousin]] dialect of Occitan) is a city and commune, the capital of the Haute-Vienne department and the administrative capital of the Limousin région in west-central France....

, Haute-Vienne, France, the child of a working class family. As a boy, he worked in a porcelain
Porcelain
Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between and...

 factory where his drawing talents led to him being chosen to paint designs on fine china. He also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans before he enrolled in art school. During those early years, he often visited the Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 to study the French master painters.

In 1862, he began studying art under Charles Gleyre in Paris. There he met Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley
Alfred Sisley was an Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life, in France, but retained British citizenship. He was the most consistent of the Impressionists in his dedication to painting landscape en plein air...

, Frédéric Bazille
Frédéric Bazille
Jean Frédéric Bazille was a French Impressionist painter. Many of Bazille's major works are examples of figure painting in which Bazille placed the subject figure within a landscape painted en plein air....

, and Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

. At times during the 1860s, he did not have enough money to buy paint. Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Paris Salon
Paris Salon
The Salon , or rarely Paris Salon , beginning in 1725 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France. Between 1748–1890 it was the greatest annual or biannual art event in the Western world...

 in 1864, recognition did not come for another ten years, due, in part, to the turmoil of the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

.

During the Paris Commune
Paris Commune
The Paris Commune was a government that briefly ruled Paris from March 18 to May 28, 1871. It existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists had taken place, and it is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution...

 in 1871, while he painted on the banks of the Seine River
Seine
The Seine is a -long river and an important commercial waterway within the Paris Basin in the north of France. It rises at Saint-Seine near Dijon in northeastern France in the Langres plateau, flowing through Paris and into the English Channel at Le Havre . It is navigable by ocean-going vessels...

, 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 a generous welcome to stay on their property near Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau
Fontainebleau is a commune in the metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a sub-prefecture of the Seine-et-Marne department, and it is the seat of the arrondissement of Fontainebleau...

 and its scenic forest
Forest of Fontainebleau
The forest of Fontainebleau is a mixed deciduous forest lying sixty kilometres southeast of Paris, France. It is located primarily in the arrondissement of Fontainebleau in the southwestern part of the department of Seine-et-Marne...

. This loss of a favorite painting location resulted in a distinct change of subjects.

Maturity

Renoir experienced his initial acclaim when six of his paintings were hung in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874. In the same year, two of his works were shown with Durand-Ruel
Paul Durand-Ruel
Paul Durand-Ruel was a French art dealer who is associated with the Impressionists. He was one of the first modern art dealers who provided support to his painters with stipends and solo exhibitions....

 in London.

In 1881, he traveled to Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

, a country he associated with Eugène Delacroix
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

, then to Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, to see the work of Diego Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

. Following that, he traveled to Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 to see Titian
Titian
Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio (c. 1488/1490 – 27 August 1576 better known as Titian was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near...

's masterpieces in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 and the paintings of Raphael in Rome. On 15 January 1882 Renoir met the composer Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

 at his home in Palermo
Palermo
Palermo is a city in Southern Italy, the capital of both the autonomous region of Sicily and the Province of Palermo. The city is noted for its history, culture, architecture and gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old...

, Sicily. Renoir painted Wagner's portrait in just thirty-five minutes. In the same year, Renoir convalesced for six weeks in Algeria after contracting pneumonia, which permanently damaged his respiratory system.

In 1883, he spent the summer in Guernsey
Guernsey
Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.The Bailiwick, as a governing entity, embraces not only all 10 parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Herm, Jethou, Burhou, and Lihou and their islet...

, 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
Channel Islands
The Channel Islands are an archipelago of British Crown Dependencies in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey...

 in the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, 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 as a model Suzanne Valadon
Suzanne Valadon
Suzanne Valadon was a French painter born Marie-Clémentine Valadon at Bessines-sur-Gartempe, Haute-Vienne, France. In 1894, Valadon became the first woman painter admitted to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts...

, who posed for him (The Bathers
The Bathers
"The Bathers" can refer to the following:* The Bathers at Asnieres a painting by George Seurat in 1883* A painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1887* The Bathers , another painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1918-1919...

, 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, he 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
Luncheon of the Boating Party
Luncheon of the Boating Party is a painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It was purchased from the artist by the dealer-patron Paul Durand-Ruel and bought in 1923 from his son by Duncan Phillips. It is currently housed in The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C....

, 1881), and with whom he 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
Gabrielle Renard
Gabrielle Renard was a French woman who became an important member of the family of the painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, first becoming a nanny and subsequently, a frequent model for the artist. She is recognized as the mentor to Jean Renoir, creating and encouraging his interest in filmmaking...

. The Renoirs had three sons, one of whom, Jean
Jean Renoir
Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s...

, became a filmmaker of note and another, Pierre
Pierre Renoir
Pierre Renoir was a French stage and film actor and served briefly as the director of the Théâtre de l'Athénée in Paris, taking over after the death of Louis Jouvet in 1951....

, became a stage and film actor.

Later years

Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks synovial joints. The process produces an inflammatory response of the synovium secondary to hyperplasia of synovial cells, excess synovial fluid, and the development...

. In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of "Les Collettes," a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life, even when arthritis severely limited his movement, and he was wheelchair-bound. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis
Ankylosis
Ankylosis or anchylosis is a stiffness of a joint due to abnormal adhesion and rigidity of the bones of the joint, which may be the result of injury or disease. The rigidity may be complete or partial and may be due to inflammation of the tendinous or muscular structures outside the joint or of...

 of his right shoulder, requiring him to adapt 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.

During this period, he created sculptures by cooperating with a young artist, Richard Guino
Richard Guino
Richard Guino is a French sculptor of Catalan origin.His work is an ode to femineity which revives the Mediterranean ideal of beauty...

, who worked the clay. Renoir also used a moving canvas, or picture roll, to facilitate painting large works with his limited joint mobility.

In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with those of the old masters. He died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer
Cagnes-sur-Mer
Cagnes-sur-Mer is a commune of the Alpes-Maritimes department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.-Geography:It is the largest suburb of the city of Nice and lies to the west-southwest of it, about from the center.-History:...

, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur or PACA is one of the 27 regions of France.It is made up of:* the former French province of Provence* the former papal territory of Avignon, known as Comtat Venaissin...

, on December 3.

Artworks

Renoir's paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated color, 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
Eugène Delacroix
Ferdinand Victor Eugène Delacroix was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school...

 and the luminosity of Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century...

. He also admired the realism of Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet
Jean Désiré Gustave Courbet was a French painter who led the Realist movement in 19th-century French painting. The Realist movement bridged the Romantic movement , with the Barbizon School and the Impressionists...

 and Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet
Édouard Manet was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism....

, and his early work resembles theirs in his use of black as a color. As well, Renoir admired Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas[p] , born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist...

' sense of movement. Another painter Renoir greatly admired was the 18th century master François Boucher
François Boucher
François Boucher was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture...

.

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 still a 'student' piece, already Renoir's heightened personal response to female sensuality is present. The model was Lise Tréhot, then the artist's mistress and inspiration for a number of paintings.

In the late 1860s, through the practice of painting light and water en plein air
En plein air
En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.Artists have long painted outdoors, but in the mid-19th century working in natural light became particularly important to the Barbizon school and Impressionism...

(in the open air), he and his friend Claude Monet
Claude Monet
Claude Monet was a founder of French impressionist painting, and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement's philosophy of expressing one's perceptions before nature, especially as applied to plein-air landscape painting. . Retrieved 6 January 2007...

 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
Diffuse reflection
Diffuse reflection is the reflection of light from a surface such that an incident ray is reflected at many angles rather than at just one angle as in the case of specular reflection...

. Several pairs of paintings exist in which Renoir and Monet, working side-by-side, depicted 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 colour 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, such as The Bathers, which was created during 1884–87. It was a trip to Italy in 1881, when he saw works by Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

 and other Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 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. This is sometimes called his "Ingres
Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres was a French Neoclassical painter. Although he considered himself to be a painter of history in the tradition of Nicolas Poussin and Jacques-Louis David, by the end of his life it was Ingres's portraits, both painted and drawn, that were recognized as his greatest...

 period", as he concentrated on his drawing and emphasized the outlines of figures.

After 1890, however, he changed direction again, returning to thinly brushed color to dissolve outlines as in his earlier work. From this period onward he concentrated especially 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 made 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, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Posthumous prints

In 1919, Ambroise Vollard
Ambroise Vollard
Ambroise Vollard is regarded as one of the most important dealers in French contemporary art at the beginning of the twentieth century...

, 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 etching
Etching
Etching is the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio in the metal...

s with hand applied watercolor
Watercolor painting
Watercolor or watercolour , also aquarelle from French, is a painting method. A watercolor is the medium or the resulting artwork in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle...

. 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.

Posthumous sales

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.

See also

  • History of painting
    History of painting
    The history of painting reaches back in time to artifacts from pre-historic humans, and spans all cultures. It represents a continuous, though periodically disrupted tradition from Antiquity. Across cultures, and spanning continents and millennia, the history of painting is an ongoing river of...

  • Western painting
    Western painting
    The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...

  • Gabrielle Renard
    Gabrielle Renard
    Gabrielle Renard was a French woman who became an important member of the family of the painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, first becoming a nanny and subsequently, a frequent model for the artist. She is recognized as the mentor to Jean Renoir, creating and encouraging his interest in filmmaking...

  • Jean Renoir
    Jean Renoir
    Jean Renoir was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s...


External links

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