Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1841 – 1919

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist movement. As a celebrator of beauty, it has been said that “Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.

Born in France, in 1841. The young Renoir had a natural proclivity for drawing, he exhibited a greater talent for singing. Due to the family’s financial circumstances, Renoir had to discontinue his music lessons and leave school at the age of thirteen to pursue an apprenticeship at a porcelain factory.

The owner of the factory recognized his apprentice’s talent and communicated this to Renoir’s family. Following this, Renoir started taking lessons to prepare for entry into art school. Renoir had his first success at the Salon of 1868 with his painting Lise with a Parasol (1867). Although Renoir first started exhibiting paintings at the Salon Paris in 1864, recognition was slow in coming.

After a series of rejections by the Salon juries, he joined forces with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and several other artists to mount the first Impressionist exhibition in April 1874, in which Renoir displayed six paintings. Hoping to secure a livelihood by attracting portrait commissions, Renoir displayed mostly portraits at the second Impressionist exhibition in 1876. He contributed a more diverse range of paintings the next year when the group presented its third exhibition; they included Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette and The Swing.

Around 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. In 1907, he moved to the warmer climate of “Les Collettes,” a farm near to the Mediterranean coast. Renoir painted during the last twenty years of his life even after his arthritis severely limited his mobility. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique.

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.

One of the best known Impressionist works is Renoir’s 1876 Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette. he 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.

In 1919, Renoir visited the Louvre to see his paintings hanging with those of the old masters. Renoir died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer,  on 3 December 1919. 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.

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