Pierre Auguste Renoir-The Great Artist

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A leading Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one among the foremost famous artists of the first twentieth century.

Pierre Auguste Renoir  was an innovative artist. He was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France.

He began as an apprentice to a porcelain painter and studied drawing in his free time

After few years as a struggling painter, Renoir helped launch an artistic movement. That movement was called Impressionism in 1870s.

He eventually became one among the foremost highly regarded artists of his time. He died on 3 rd December in 1919, Cagnes-sur-Mer, France

Early Years of Pierre Auguste Renoir

Auguste Renoir was born into a family of artisans. His father was a tailor who had seven children.

He was the couple’s sixth child, but two of his older siblings died as infants. His family  moved to Paris sometime between 1844 and 1846, living near the Louvre. Louvre was a world-renowned art museum. Renoir attended a local Catholic school.

 Renoir, as a teenager became an apprentice to a porcelain painter. He learned copying designs to decorate various plates and other dishware.

Long before, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting to make a living. He also took free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by Louis-Denis Caillouette. Louis-Denis Caillouette was a sculptor.

Using imitation as a learning tool, Renoir started studying and copying some of the great works hanging at the Louvre when he was only 19 years old. He then entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in 1862.

Ecole des Beaux-Arts was a famous art school.

Ecole des Beaux arts-Pierre Auguste Renoir's Art School
Ecole des Beaux arts in Paris

Renoir also became a student of Charles Gleyre.

Renoir soon befriended three other young artists at Gleyre’s studio.

They were  Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. He met such emerging talents such as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne through Claude  Monet.

Beginning of Career

Renoir won acceptance into the annual Paris Salon exhibit in 1864. There he showed his painting, “La Esmeralda,” which was inspired by a character from Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris.

Same year Renoir again showed his work at the prestigious Salon. This time his work was a portrait of William Sisley, the wealthy father of artist Alfred Sisley.

William Sisley's potrait by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
William Sisley’s potrait ,painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

When his Salon works helped raise his profile in the art world that time Renoir had to struggle to make a living.

 He sought out commissions for portraits and often he depended on the kindness of his mentors, friends, and also patrons.

The artist Jules Le Coeur and his family served as strong supporters of Renoir’s for few years.

 Renoir also remained close to Monet, Bazille, and Sisley. Sometimes he stayed at their homes or sharing their studios.

According to few biographies, he seemed to have no fixed address in his early career.

Around 1867, Renoir met Lise Tréhot. Lise Trehot was a seamstress who became his model later. She served as the model for such works as “Diana” in 1867 and “Lise” also in 1867.

Lisa Sewing by Renoir
Lise_Sewing by Renoir

 The two reportedly became romantically involved. According to some reports, Lise Trehot gave birth to Renoir’s first child, a daughter named Jeanne, in 1870. Renoir never publicly accepted his daughter during his lifetime.

Renoir took a break from his work in 1870 when he was drafted into the army to serve in France’s war against Germany.

 He was assigned to a cavalry unit, but he soon became ill with dysentery. Renoir never saw any action during the war, unlike his friend Bazille . Bazille was killed that November.

Leader of Impressionism

Renoir made his way back to Paris after the war ended in 1871. Renoir and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Edgar Degas decided to exhibit  their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition.

first Impressionist exhibition's Cover Catalogue
First Impressionist Exhibition’s Cover Catalogue.

The group’s name was derived from a critical review of their show, in which their works were called “impressions” rather than finished paintings done using traditional methods.

Like other Impressionists, Renoir embraced a brighter palette for his paintings.That gave them a warmer and sunnier feel.

He also applied different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas.

While Renoir saw that  first Impressionist exhibition was not a success, he soon found other supportive patrons to propel his career.

Publisher  Georges Charpentier and his wife Marguérite took a great interest in the artist .They invited Renoir  to numerous social gatherings at their home in Paris.

Renoir met such famous writers as Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola through the Charpentiers,.

 He also received portrait commissions from the couple’s friends.

 His made “Madame Charpentier and her Children” in 1878 .That painting was featured in the official Salon of the following year and brought him much critical admiration.

International Success of Pierre Auguste Renoir

In the early 1880s ,funded with the money from his commissions, Renoir made several inspirational journeys.

 He visited Italy and Algeria and spent time in the south of France. While he was in Naples, Italy, Renoir worked on a portrait of famed composer Richard Wagner.

He also painted “Dance in the Country” ,”Dance in the City” and “Dance at Bougival” around this time.

As he became famous, Renoir began to settle down. He married his longtime girlfriend Aline Charigot in 1890.

The couple already had a son, Pierre. Pierre was born in 1885. Aline (Renoir’s wife) served as a model for many of his works, including “Mother Nursing Her Child” (1886).

Mother Nursing Her Child by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Mother Nursing Her Child by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir’s  growing family, with the additions of sons Jean in 1894 and Claude in 1901, also provided inspiration for a number of paintings.

As he became old, Renoir continued to use his trademark feathery brushstrokes to depict primarily rural and domestic scenes.

His work proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism in 1890s . The disease plagued him for the rest of his life.

Final Years of Pierre-Auguste Renoir

In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer .There he built a stately home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could.

The rheumatism had disfigured his hands. His fingers became permanently curled.

Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is sitting in Wheel Chair
Pierre-Auguste Renoir is sitting in Wheel Chair

 He tried his hand at sculpture around that time. He worked with assistants to create some works based on some of his paintings.

The world-famous Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist.

Renoir died on 3 December 1919,at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was buried next to his wife, Aline. Aline  died in 1915, in her hometown of Essoyes, France.

 Renoir served as an inspiration to so many other artists like Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso were just a few who got benefit from Renoir’s artistic style and methods.


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2 thoughts on “Pierre Auguste Renoir-The Great Artist”

  1. Pingback: Renoir’s Life – Art of an Artist

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