Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919
By Lori Stranger
Born on the 25th of February, 1841, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was the son of a painter and seamstress. Renoir took an interest in painting early in his life; his family moved to Paris in 1844 and encouraged him to frequent the Louvre where he developed an interest in the French Rococo style of François Boucher and the Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix, admiring their loose brushstrokes and emphasis on vibrant colours. These early influences clearly carried with him, and can be traced throughout his career.
In 1862, Renoir began studying painting under Charles Gleyre, whose other pupils Claude Monet, Frèdèric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. These artists, among others, would form what would later be termed Impressionism. Although Renoir experienced some success exhibiting in the Salon, for example his 1868 painting, Lise With A Parasol, depicting his lover Lise Trehot, he frequently struggled to gain acceptance within the strict structure of the Salon. He continued to submit works until 1873, however, following the Salon's rejection of his colleagues’, Renoir along with Monet, Sisley, and Pissarro put on the first ‘Impressionist’ exhibition. The name was later derived from a critical review of their show, referring to the paintings ‘impressionistic’ nature, implying that the works were unfinished.
The Impressionist painters often depicted ordinary subject matter working en plein air capturing a spontaneous moment. The style was characterised by broad loose brushstrokes, open composition and an interest in the effect of light. However, by 1878 Renoir had grown disillusioned with the Impressionists’ emphasis on spontaneity. By the third Impressionist exhibition, his paintings, although still displaying an interest in the effects of light, presented a more carefully composed scene such as Bal du Moulin de la Galette, 1876. Renoir soon resumed submitting works to the Salon and refrained from exhibiting in the fourth and fifth Impressionist exhibitions. The success of his painting Mme Charpentier and her Children, 1878, at the Salon provided him with financial security, as well as helping him acquire numerous wealthy patrons through the Charpentiers.
In the 1880s, Renoir travelled to Algeria, like Delacroix before him, and travelled to Italy where he came to admire the structural compositions and under-drawing of the Renaissance artists, in contrast to the en plein air technique favoured by the Impressionists. The trip to Italy had a crucial effect on his artistic style, moving his work towards more classical conceptions of draughtsmanship and composition, as can be seen in his Luncheon Of The Boating Party, 1881. Despite his severe rheumatism affecting his hands and left eye, Renoir continued to produce work and continued to expand his artistic abilities. Pierre Auguste Renoir died on the 3rd December, 1919, in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. Producing over two hundred works during his lifetime, Renoir greatly influenced later artists such as Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, ensuring his legacy as one of the most influential artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
"Pierre-Auguste Renoir," Biography. Accessed 25th February, 2018 https://www.biography.com/people/pierre-auguste-renoir-20693609
"Renoir", The Art Story. Accessed 25th February, 2018 http://www.theartstory.org/artist-renoir-pierre-auguste.htm
"Pierre-Auguste Renoir," National Gallery. Accessed 25th February, 2018 https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/artists/pierre-auguste-renoir