Occupation: Painting, Engraving, Sculpture
“Diana the Huntress,” 1867
“La Loge,” 1874
“Bal du Moulin de la Galette,” 1876
“Le Déjeuner des Canotiers,” 1881
“On the Terrace,” 1881
“The Umbrellas,” 1886
“Jeunes filles au piano,” 1892
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French artist. He was one of the founders of the French Impressionist art movement, well known for his sensuous depictions of the female form.
Early Life and Education
Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. Born in a working-class home, he began working at a porcelain factory at the age of 13, where he was assigned, because of his artistic talent, to paint designs on the china. Before learning to paint formally, Renoir learnt by imitation – studying and copying the works of the French masters at the Louvre. He enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris in 1862. Around this time, he also became friends with painters such as Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille at Gleyre’s studio.
The Impressionist Style
Renoir’s paintings were displayed at the Paris Salon, the official exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, for the first time in 1864. The 1860s were also a time of financial struggle for Renoir and he depended on the generosity of friends for support, sharing both living and studio space. Throughout this period, Renoir worked on more formal, conservative paintings to submit to the Salons while privately, he created work in a different, more fluid style. In 1869, Renoir and Monet collaborated to paint the Sienne in a series of landscapes and through the process, developed the painting technique of small brushstrokes and saturated colors, which would come to define the Impressionist style. The collaboration also allowed them to paint ‘en plein air’, which became one of the characteristic features of the Impressionist style.
In 1874, a group of friends and artists including Renoir, Claude Monet, Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Edgar Degas presented the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris, followed by a second exhibition in 1876. The Impressionist group went on to present eight exhibitions. While the 1874 and 1876 shows were not critical successes, the artists did succeed in their endeavor to challenge the dominance of the Salon shows. For Renoir, the shows brought recognition and success, as by the late 1870s, he had enough patrons and commissioned portrait projects to be financially secure.
Renoir deeply admired the works of Eugene Delacroix and Camille Corot, as well as his own contemporaries Edouard Manet and Degas. By the early 1880s, Renoir was able to travel abroad and visited Algeria, Spain, Italy, England and the south of France, seeing inspiration from the works of Raphael, Velazquez and Rubens, among others. This led him to experiment with a more traditional style and themes, evident in his later work. He also met the composer Richard Wagner at his home in Sicily and painted a portrait of him, completed in 35 minutes. Stylistically, he moved away from the Impressionist group in the 1880s. He only returned to the style in the 1890s.
Renoir’s first child with Aline Victorine Charigot was born in 1885 and also named Pierre. Charigot had been a model for some of Renoir’s work, including “Mother Nursing Her Child”. The couple married in 1890 and went on to have two more sons, Jean and Claude. Following his marriage and the birth of his children, Renoir’s work increasingly contained scenes of domestic life.
In 1892, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that he lived with for the rest of his life. Rheumatism caused severe deformities in his fingers and affected his work though he continued to paint with the help of an assistant who would place a brush in his hands. Renoir also began creating sculptures after developing his illness, collaborating with the young artist Richard Guino.
One of Renoir’s paintings was purchased by the Louvre in 1919. The artist visited the museum and saw his painting on display, before his death on December 3 the same year, at his estate in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was 78 at the time of death.
Renoir created over a thousand paintings in the course of his life. His work is held at major museums, art galleries and private collections around the world. The single largest collection of Renoir’s work is at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.
1841 - Born in Limoges
1844 - Moves to Paris
1854 - Leaves school to apprentice with a porcelain painting company, Lévy Freres
1862 - Enrolls at the École National des Beaux-Arts de Paris
1870 - Enlists in the Army
1874 - Helps organize the First Impressionist Exhibitions
1880 - Meets Aline Charigot, his future wife
1881 - Travels to Algeria and Italy
1882 - Falls ill with pneumonia
1885 - Birth of his son Pierre
1889 - Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis
1890 - Marries Aline Charigot
1893 - Birth of his second son, Jean
1900 - Awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur
1901 - Birth of his son Claude
1903 - Moves to Cagnes-sur-Mer
1915 - Death of his wife
1919 - Dies in Cagnes-sur-Mer
1864 - Salon de Paris
1874 - First Impressionist Exhibition
1879 - Salon de Paris
1901 - Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris
1920 - Art Institute of Chicago
2015 - Alte Nationalegalerie, Berlin
Musée Renoir de Cagnes-sur-Mer
Atelier Renoir, Essoyes
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Musée du Louvre, Paris
La Musée de la Chartreuse de Douai
The Phillips Collection, Washington DC
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco
Guggenheim Museum, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
National Gallery, London
Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Tate Gallery, London
Dublin City Gallery
“Les Lithographies de Renoir,” by Claude Roger-Marx
“Auguste Renoir,” by François Daulte
“Renoir: 1841-1919,” by Pascal Bonafoux
“Pierre-Auguste Renoir, mon père,” by Jean Renoir
“The Impressionist Print,” by Michel Melot
“Renoir,” by Theodore Duret