Pierre Auguste Renoir Biography | Oil Paintings
2-25-1841 Limoges, FRA - 12-3-1919 Cagnes, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Born in Limoges into a family of craftsmen (and thus from a lower class than Manet, Cezanne, and Degas), Pierre-Auguste Renoir brought to the Impressionists a refreshing and instinctive joie de vivre. This spirit conveyed in his paintings of popular Sunday diversions of the period, such as outdoor dances, boat trips on the Seine, and summer strolls in shady parks.
Pierre Auguste Renoir trained as a porcelain painter before studying painting at the Ecole des Beaux-arts and entering the studio of Charles Gleyre in 1862 and in the same class as Monet and Sisley. He learnt little from this master but did meet future members of the Impressionist circle. Feeling oppressed by academic conventions, he and his classmates began to go outdoors (en Plein air) and fill their paintings with the natural colors and light of the surrounding countryside and together they attended the meetings at the Café Guerbois, where Edouard Manet held court.
Renoir The Smile of Impressionism.
And so Impressionism was born. Initially, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was particularly close to Claude Monet, and the pair often painted side by side on the Seine River. Although both were desperately poor, these early, apparently carefree pictures are often cited as the purest distillation of Impressionist principles. Few artists have been able to convey the tenderness and innocence of children as well as Renoir. Never resorting to the rigid poses that have so often spoiled “official” portraits of children done in their Sunday best, Renoir allows his young models to laugh and play. Here, Girl With A Watering Can, the painter creates an enchanting harmony between the sunlit flower garden and the little blonde girl who proudly holds a tiny green watering can, smiling happily as if she alone were responsible for the spectacular garden in bloom.
In contrast to the country scenes frequently chosen by Sisley and Monet, Renoir looked to Paris for inspiration, focusing on the everyday life of its inhabitants. He quickly distinguished himself as an excellent portrait painter, with a unique sensibility for young women and children. Renoir joyfully participated in the revelry of the popular Sunday dances. This masterpiece, Dance At The Moulin De La Galette, (Bal Au Moulin de la Galette sold for $78.1 million in 1990) unquestionably one of the most famous Impressionist works, was painted during a crucial period in Renoir's career, when ideas he shared with other painters in the group (his preference for subjects from everyday life, colored shadows, and painting outdoors) began to evolve into his own unmistakable style, characterized by brushstrokes laden with color.
Pierre Auguste Renoir participated at four of the Impressionist shows, but gradually distanced himself from the movement. This was partly because of his growing success as a portraitist, and partly because he had never lost his affection for Old Masters such as Peter Rubens and Francois Boucher. The man in The Theater Box intently peering through the opera glasses at members of high society at the Opera is Renoir's brother, Edmond. He is in the company of the resplendent Nini, a well-known model, portrayed here with great freshness and luminosity. As always, Renoir focuses on the eyes and lips of his female subjects, leaving the rest of the face almost neutral. The flower slipped into the neckline of her striped dress reveals the exceptionally sensitive use of the pictorial material.
Renoir's Change in Direction.
Like Monet, Renoir endured much hardship early in his career, but he began to achieve success as a portrait artist in the late 1870s when his portrait oil paintings were accepted by the Paris Salon, whose wide audience helped him market his artwork. He was freed from financial worries after the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel began buying his work regularly after 1881.
In 1881 he reached a watershed in his career. He married Aline Charigot, one of his models, and traveled widely in Europe and North Africa. Renoir took a long trip to Italy, where his style began to evolve and change profoundly, reaffirming his taste for the art of the past. In his subsequent work, he moved away from traditional Impressionist themes, the joyous, spontaneous images of the previous years gave way to large compositions filled with monumental, almost Rubens-like, female nudes, especially after he moved to the Cote d'Azur. Suffering from arthritis and confined to a wheelchair, the aging Renoir continued to paint courageously, his paintbrush tied to his hand, until the end of his life, celebrating youth and beauty in the dazzling light of the French Riviera.
With his usual sense of chromatic harmony, Renoir has based this entire painting The Umbrellas, on the gray-blue color of open umbrellas and autumn dresses. The dominant dark tones are counterbalanced by the luminous faces of the young women, who are relieved that the rain is finally stopping. The two children placed in the lower-right hand corner of the composition are the actual focus of the painter's attention and also serve to lighten the mood.
A Renoir for only $7.00?
In 2009, in a flea market near Washington D.C., an American lady bought for $7.00 dollars a painting which she later discovers is an authentic painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage Bords de Seine. It was to be auctioned in 2012 after disappearing for several decades, but the sale was canceled because of the owner, The Baltimore Art Museum, asks the FBI to sequestrate it. The painting had been stolen during the night in 1951 during the exhibition devoted to French paintings. The Court ordered in 2014, the restitution of the painting back to the Museum. But the whole story of the $7.00 art find was all a lie and retracted.
Art Movement: Impressionism.
Artists Influencing Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Charles Gleyre, Peter Paul Rubens, Francois Boucher, Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet.
He Traveled To Algeria, Italy, Spain, England.
Artist Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.