Who is Renoir ?
Discover who Renoir is and explore his artistic legacy and influence on art.
A major figure in Impressionism, Pierre-Auguste Renoir is now one of the most famous French artists of international renown.
His paintings reflect his initial desire to capture life, moments of happiness and serenity.
He has never strayed from this ambition, even if his style has evolved over the course of a career spanning more than half a century and including some 7,000 works.
PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR : A REVOLUTIONARY CAREER
Born in 1841 in Limoges, Pierre-Auguste Renoir came from a modest background : his parents were dressmakers and seamstresses, and he was the sixth child in a family of seven. In 1844, the family moved to Paris to improve their situation.
At the age of thirteen, he became an apprentice in a porcelain painting workshop, then in a fan, blind and wood panel painting workshop.
In 1862, he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was here that Renoir met a number of people who would have a decisive influence on his future career, including Frédéric Bazille, Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet. He often met up in the forest of Fontainebleau to paint outdoors, and their friendship grew stronger. Soon, the young painters no longer recognised themselves in the art taught by this school and formed a new artistic movement known as Impressionism.
With them, paintings based on scenes of everyday life or landscapes came into being. These works were painted quickly in the open air, with juxtaposed strokes of pure colour that conveyed the overall impression and sensations perceived by the painter.
They also bear witness to an era, to everyday life in the face of the modernity brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
THE EVOLUTION OF AN ART MASTER
Faced with the criticism and incomprehension of his contemporaries towards Impressionism, Renoir distanced himself from the movement :
“Around 1883, there was something of a break in my work. I had gone all the way with Impressionism and I realised that I didn’t know how to paint or draw. In a word, I had reached a dead end”.
Renoir remained relentless in his search for absolute pictorial art : he went through a period known as “Ingresque” and then a “pearly” period. A famous work from this latter period, Les jeunes Filles au piano, painted in 1892, was the first of Renoir’s paintings to be bought by the state. This official recognition established the artist in the eyes of everyone. In the last years of his life, Auguste Renoir took up sculpture with the successive help of Richard Guino and the Essoyen Louis Morel.
Auguste Renoir died at the age of 78 in Cagnes-sur-Mer. He was nicknamed the “painter of happiness”.