Pierre Auguste Renoir Biography

Pierre Auguste Renoir




Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French painter, born in Limoges, the son of a tailor. In 1845 his family moved to Paris. Between 1856 and 1859 he apprenticed and then worked as a porcelain painter, taking evening classes in drawing. He then studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He was a fellow student of Monet, Sisley and Bazille; he went on summer painting trips with them to Chailly and Fountainbleau. He studied the eighteenth century paintings in the Louvre and also met Corot, Millet and Diaz. In 1864 his work was first accepted at the Salon. During the 1870s he painted with Monet at Argenteuil and elsewhere, and came to know Cezanne, Dega, Pissarro, etc., and in 1874 his work was included in the first Impressionist exhibition (and in three of the subsequent seven.) He had little public success but was patronized by Caillebotte, Chocquet and others.

From the late 1870s on he enjoyed increased success at the Salons, especially with portraiture. Eventually, he became dissatisfied with Impressionism and felt renewed admiration for Ingres, Raphael and eighteenth-century art. During the 1880s he worked increasingly in the south of France. Renoir's early work as a porcelain painter reflects two constant characteristics of his art: an enormous natural facility and a dedication to eighteenth century standards of decoration and craftsmanship.

Apart from the personality of his brushwork, the main distinction of his 1870s Impressionism was his preoccupation with the figure as subject matter and particularly with the gay vitality of Parisian life. Less rigorously introspective than Monet, he made his reputation at the Salons from the late 1870s with a series of fashionable portraits. Here his dexterity was combined with anecdotal charm, and many of the sculptures he made at the end of his life are direct transpositions of painted motifs. These were largely made by an assistant (a pupil of Maillol), Renoir's own hands being almost crippled with arthritis. He died in Cagnes, in 1919.