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Artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Photo

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

French Draftsman and Painter

Movement: Impressionism

Born: February 25, 1841 - Limoges, France

Died: December 3, 1919 - Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Timeline

Quotes

"Go and see what others have produced, but never copy anything except nature. You would be trying to enter into a temperament that is not yours and nothing that you would do would have any character."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"An artist, under pain of oblivion, must have confidence in himself, and listen only to his real master: Nature."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"It took me twenty years to discover painting: twenty years looking at nature, and above all, going to the Louvre."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"Work lovingly done is the secret of all order and all happiness."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"Shall I tell you what I think are the two qualities of a work of art? First, it must be indescribable, and second, it must be inimitable."
Pierre-Auguste Renoir

"Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world."

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Signature

Synopsis

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French Impressionist painter whose eye for beauty made him one of the movement's most popular practitioners. He is best known for his paintings of bustling Parisian modernity and leisure in the last three decades of the 19th century. Though celebrated as a colorist with a keen eye for capturing the movement of light and shadow, Renoir started to explore Renaissance painting in the middle of his career, which led him to integrate more line and composition into his mature works and create some of his era's most timeless canvases.

Key Ideas

Working alongside Claude Monet, Renoir was essential to developing Impressionist style in the late 1860s, but there is a decidedly human element to his work that sets him apart. Renoir had a brilliant eye for both intimate domesticity and the day's fashions, and his images of content families and well-dressed Parisian pleasure seekers created a bridge from Impressionism's more experimental aims to a modern, middle-class art public.
Renoir was the first Impressionist to perceive the potential limitations of an art based primarily on optical sensation and light effects. Though his discoveries in this field would always remain integral to his art, he reasserted the necessity of composition and underlying structure in modern painting, achieving in his mature work a structured, monumental style that acknowledged the strengths of High Renaissance art.
Renoir's example became indispensable for the major French movements of high modernism: Fauvism and Cubism. Like Renoir, the progenitors of these styles focused on issues of color, composition, and depth rather than quick sketches of individual moments. His composed, vivid paintings created a vital bridge from earlier colorists like Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Antoine Watteau, and Eugène Delacroix to the 20th-century giants Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.

Biography

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Photo

Childhood

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born into a working class family in Limoges, a city in the central west region of France. The area is historically significant as the center of French porcelain production, reaching that status during the 19th century. Fittingly, Renoir's first artistic job, during his teens, was as a painter in one of the town's porcelain factories. The son of a tailor and a seamstress, Renoir had a steady hand and a talent for decorative effect, which earned him praise from his employers and brought him to the attention of a growing customer base, including a number of wealthy patrons for whom he painted picture hangings and decorations for fans and other luxury objects. These early successes fed his desire to leave the factory and pursue fine arts painting.

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir Biography Continues

Important Art by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The below artworks are the most important by Pierre-Auguste Renoir - that both overview the major creative periods, and highlight the greatest achievements by the artist.

Diana the Huntress (1867)

Diana the Huntress (1867)

Artwork description & Analysis: This wonderfully composed piece is far from exemplary when considering Renoir's later body of work. What we see, rather, is a young artist with a gift for oil painting and composition and yet without a truly distinct voice of his own. During his early years, Renoir spent a great deal of time touring the halls of the Louvre and other museums and studying the French masters of the 18th and early-19th centuries. In this canvas, he rendered his mistress Lise Tréhot as the Roman goddess Diana, a common trope in Rococo portraiture. Though the matter-of-fact depiction of a full-figured nude also recalls his love of Realism a la Courbet, he achieves a Classical timelessness that Realism lacked.

Oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

La Grenouillère (1869)

La Grenouillère (1869)

Artwork description & Analysis: At the popular outdoor bathing spot and bar La Grenouillère ("The Frog Pond"), Renoir and Monet, not yet financially successful artists, painted images of middle-class leisure that they hoped to sell to its wealthy clientele. As they worked closely alongside one another, the two simultaneously developed several of the theories, techniques, and practices that would give rise to Impressionism. Both artists painted this scene from this exact vantage point. If Monet's gives a broader perspective and focuses more on the vivid effects of light on the water and surrounding trees, then Renoir's version gives a closer view of the fashionable denizens of the popular resort. Indeed, even when painting nature en plein air, Renoir gave a weight to the human subject perhaps unmatched by his fellow Impressionists.

Oil on canvas - Nationalmuseum, Stockholm

La Loge (1874)

La Loge (1874)

Artwork description & Analysis: Depicting an elegant-looking couple sitting in an elevated theater box, this tribute to Parisian modern life was also the artist's principal contribution to the very first Impressionist exhibition of the same year, and it was met with much acclaim. The theater played a prominent role in Parisian life, from opera to the popular variety shows featuring can-can dancers, and depictions of the theater typically focused on the performers. However, much of the allure of the theater for the middle class was the opportunity to see and be seen, and La Loge deftly captures that complex interplay of gazes. The woman lowers her opera glasses, implying that she is no longer watching the events on stage and allowing her face to be seen. Meanwhile, the man (Renoir's brother Edmond) leans back in his seat, perusing the theatergoers in other balconies through his glasses. With his delicate and masterful rendering of his model's lacy bodice, glinting jewelry, and floral accoutrements, Renoir painted a canvas about seeing that spoke to his own keen eye.

Oil on canvas - The Courtauld Gallery, London

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Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Interactive chart with Pierre-Auguste Renoir's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

RaphaelRaphael
Jean-Antoine WatteauJean-Antoine Watteau
Francisco GoyaFrancisco Goya
Eugène DelacroixEugène Delacroix
Gustave CourbetGustave Courbet

Personal Contacts

Claude MonetClaude Monet
Alfred SisleyAlfred Sisley
Frédéric BazilleFrédéric Bazille

Movements

RenaissanceRenaissance
RealismRealism
RomanticismRomanticism
JaponismJaponism

Influences on Artist
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Years Worked: 1862-1919
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Mary CassattMary Cassatt
Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Henri MatisseHenri Matisse
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

Claude MonetClaude Monet
Victor ChocquetVictor Chocquet
Gustave CaillebotteGustave Caillebotte
Paul Durand-RuelPaul Durand-Ruel

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
CubismCubism

Useful Resources on Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Videos

Books

Websites

Articles

Audio

More

The books and articles below constitute a bibliography of the sources used in the writing of this page. These also suggest some accessible resources for further research, especially ones that can be found and purchased via the internet.

biography

Renoir Recomended resource

By Anne Distel

Renoir

By Peter H. Feist

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

By Mike Venezia

More Interesting Books about Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Critic Tries to Appreciate Renoir

By Kenneth Baker
The San Francisco Chronicle
April 24, 2014

How This Renoir Used to Look

By Kenneth Chang
The New York Times
April 20, 2014

Renoir in Britain: His Fleeting Impression Recomended resource

By Alastair Smart
The Telegraph
February 1, 2014

A Muse to the Father, and a Wife to the Son

By Stephen Holden
The New York Times
March 28, 2013

More Interesting Articles about Pierre-Auguste Renoir
"Painting 'Renoir' in Finely Detailed Strokes

By Susan Stamberg
NPR
April 11, 2013

in pop culture

Renoir (2012)

Dramatic motion picture based on the life of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, directed by Gilles Bourdos

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Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Justin Wolf
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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