Pierre Auguste Renoir
Impressionist Artist Pierre Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, France, on February 25, 1841, the sixth of Leonard Renoir and Marguerite Merlet's seven children. Renoir´s father was a tailor, and his mother was a dressmaker. The Renoir family moved to Paris in 1844. Showing a remarkable talent for drawing, Pierre–Auguste Renoir became an apprentice in a porcelain factory where Renoir painted designs on fine art china. After the factory had gone out of business, Pierre Renoir worked for his older brother, decorating fine art fans, blinds and signs. Throughout these early years Pierre Auguste Renoir made frequent visits to the Louvre where Renoir studied and developed a deep respect for the art of 18th Century French Rococo Masters.

In 1862 Pierre Renoir began to study art seriously and entered the studio of the painter Charles Gleyre, where Renoir met other artists such as Claude Monet. The 1860s were difficult years for Pierre August Renoir. At times Renior was too poor to buy paints or canvas, and the Paris Salons (national exhibitions) of 1866 and 1867 rejected Renoir´s art. In 1868 the Paris Salon accepted Renoir´s portrait of his girlfriend, Lise Trehot. Pierre Auguste Renoir continued to develop his art and to study the paintings of other artists of the day such as Manet and Courbet.

During the 1860´s a revolution was beginning in French painting. A group of young artists began to rebel against the traditions of Western painting which was steeped in Realism. These artists began to paint outdoors, using nature as their inspiration, in an attempt to capture the nuances of light and atmosphere with quick bold strokes of color. As a result, their art revealed a look of freshness that rapidly departed from the style of the Old Masters. This new art style were initially shunned by the public and art critics who considered them unfinished, underdeveloped and mere ‘impressions´ of subjects. The critic´s insult stuck and Impressionism was born. The group of artists, which included Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Cassatt, Degas and others, were unable to gain acceptance into the official Salon and eventually created their own series of exhibitions called the Salon des Refuses.

Although the Impressionist art exhibitions were the targets of much public scorn, Renoir's popularity gradually increased, and in time, Pierre Auguste Renoir was backed by loyal art dealers and devoted collectors. Renoir´s artworks depicted men and women together in casual social settings, vibrant intimate portraits, voluptuous nudes and lush landscapes full of emotion. In 1890, at the age of 49, Pierre Renoir made his first etching La Danse a la Compagne, based on Renoir´s 1883 painting, which featured Renoir´s brother Edmond and painter Suzanne Valadon. Pierre Auguste Renoir would eventually create approximately 55 different etchings and lithographs.

In 1890 Pierre Renoir married Aline Charigot, Renoir´s companion of almost ten years. They would have three sons in all. Pierre Auguste Renoir quickly incorporated the Renoir family into his later works. It was during these later years that Pierre Renoir further developed his unique style–a blend of Classicism and Impressionism which featured radiant nude bathers and tender familial scenes.

Renoir's health declined severely in his later years. In 1903 Pierre Auguste Renoir suffered his first attack of arthritis and settled for the warmer climates at Cagnes–sur–Mer, in the South of France. The arthritis made painting painful, yet Pierre Renoir continued to work, at times with a brush tied to Renoir´s crippled hand. Pierre Auguste Renoir died at Cagnes–sur–Mer on December 3, 1919, but not before experiencing a major artistic triumph: the State had purchased Renior´s 1877 portrait Madame Georges Charpentier and Renoir traveled to Paris in August to see it hanging in the Louvre.

"You come to nature with all her theories, and she knocks them all flat."
Pierre Auguste Renoir

Museum Collections:
Phillips Collection, Washington
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena
Metropolitan Museum, New York
Frick Collection, New York
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Musee d´Orsay, Paris
The Louvre, Paris
Musee de l´Orangerie, Paris
National Gallery, London
Tate Gallery, London
British Museum, London
Hermitage Museum, Russia



back to top

Nu (After)La Danse a la Campagne (2e Planche)Enfant au Biscuit
Nu (After)La Danse a la Campagne (2e Planche)Enfant au Biscuit