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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919), commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As one who celebrated beauty and especially feminine sensuality, Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated color, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. In characteristic Impressionist style, Renoir suggested the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of color, so that his figures softly fuse with their surroundings.

At the age of 51, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis, which in his last twenty years of his life, severely limited his mobility. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. Renoir remained positive and passionate about his art and did not let his condition affect his painting or diminish the beauty that he saw around him. In the advanced stages of his arthritis, he required an assistant to place his paintbrush in his hand. His hands were also wrapped with bandages to prevent skin irritation. Renoir applied a variety of effective coping strategies and used his ingenuity to come up with different ways to continue painting even as his arthritis weakened him.

Renoir was a prolific artist who created several thousand paintings. The single most extensive collection of his works, about 181 paintings, is part of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Explore Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

  • Name:                  Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Born:                    1841 – Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France
  • Died:                    1919 (aged 78) – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, France
  • Nationality:          French
  • Movement:          Impressionism

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Art

  • Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette
    • “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” is also known as “Bal du Moulin de la Galette” and is one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s most famous works. The Moulin de la Galette was an outdoor dancehall and café, frequented by many of Renoir’s friends. Renoir was a regular, and he enjoyed the atmosphere. The Moulin de la Galette was one of the several windmills located in Montmartre, a district of Paris. The painting depicts a famous Parisian lifestyle during a typical Sunday afternoon in the late 1870s, when working-class Parisians would dress up and spend time dancing, drinking, and eating into the evening. It is one of the most famous Impressionist paintings and a dazzling example of Renoir’s talent for capturing dappled light produced when sunlight is filtered through the leaves of trees. It is a masterpiece demonstrating his innovative style of capturing a sizeable moving crowd with vibrant and brightly colored brushstrokes.

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Musée d'Orsay

  • Dance at Bougival
    • “Dance at Bougival” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, made in 1883, depicts two of Renoir’s friends dancing at one of the open-air cafés of suburban Bougival on the Seine outside Paris. Renoir used intense color and lush brushwork to heighten the sense of pleasure conveyed by the whirling couple who dominate the painting. The woman’s face, framed by her red bonnet and is the focus of attention. The woman’s body is arched to the dance as she turns her head and looks away, delighted with the pleasure she inspires in her dance partner and herself. Her dress swirls to the rhythms of the dance.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Dance at Bougival

  • The Large Bathers 
    • “The Large Bathers” or “Les Grandes Baigneuses” by Auguste Renoir depicts a scene of nude women bathing. The figures have a sculptural quality, while the landscape behind them is bathed in an impressionist light. This painting was a new style for Renoir, who sought to reconcile the modern topics and painting styles with the traditions of the 17th and 18th-century art. Renoir admired Rubens, Titian, and Raphael’s works, and he was trying to find an integrated form of the old masters and the new impressionist style.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French - The Large Bathers

  • The Theater Box
    • “The Theater Box” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, also knew by its French name “La Loge,” shows a couple in their theatre box. Theatre in Paris at the time of this painting was a rapidly expanding form of entertainment and culture. The theatre was a prominent place to meet people and to be seen. Wealth and fashion were on parade. In this painting, Renoir focused upon the theatre scene as a social stage where status and relationships were on public display.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

  • Portrait of Misia Godebska-Sert
    • “Portrait of Misia Godebska-Sert” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir shows Misia Sert, née Godebska, who was a notable figure in the circle of artists in Paris at the turn of the century. She first married in 1903, and later she married the Spanish painter José Maria Sert, and it is as Misia Sert that she is most remembered. Misia Sert (1872 – 1950) was a pianist of Polish descent who hosted an artistic salon in Paris and was a patron and friend to numerous artists.

Renoir Misia Godebska

  • Collette’s House in Cagnes
    • “Collette’s House in Cagnes” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir was painted by Renoir at the age of just over 70-year-old, during a time when Renoir lived at a farm on the hill Les Collettes in Cagnes-sur-Mer, the area he lived in until his death. Renoir died in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, seven years after this painting. Renoir’s paintings are notable for their light and color, as in this painting. The warm of Renoir’s style made his paintings some of the most famous works in the history of art. Renoir uses the trees as a visual screen to integrate the foreground and background space.

Renoir - La casa de Colletes en Cagnes

  • Luncheon of the Boating Party
    • “Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts a group of Renoir’s friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise restaurant, along the Seine river in Chatou, France. All of the figures in the painting have been identified, and their names are known. Renoir’s future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog.

Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party

  • In Summer
    • “In Summer” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is a portrait of twenty-year-old Lise Tréhot, who was Renoir’s companion from about 1866 to 1871. He painted her at least 23 times, including Lise, with a parasol, painted in 1867, which was Renoir’s first significant critical success at the Paris Salon in 1868. This success inspired Renoir to repaint her, this time in a more informal and intimate style.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Summertime

  • Country Dance
    • “Country Dance” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir shows a dancing couple under a chestnut tree. Both figures are painted life-size and occupy almost the entire painting. The woman who holds a fan in her right hand is shown with a smiling face looking towards the viewer. The scene is bathed in bright and cheerful light. The background includes a table on the right, and a hat on the ground and a pair of faces below the level of the dance floor can be seen.

Pierre Auguste Renoir - Country Dance

  • Two Sisters
    • Two Sisters or On the Terrace by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts the upper terrace of the Maison Fournaise, a family restaurant located on an island in the Seine in Chatou, the western suburb of Paris. The painting shows a young woman and her younger girl seated outdoors with a small basket containing balls of wool. In the background over the railings of the terrace, are flowering plants and vines. Further in the background is the River Seine with boats and some buildings in the top left on the other side of the river.

Renoir - The Two Sisters, On the Terrace

Pierre-Auguste Renoir Quotes

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“The more they measure, the more they realize how much the Greeks departed from regular and banal lines to produce their effect.”

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“Why should beauty be suspect?”

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“There are quite enough unpleasant things in life without the need to manufacture more.”

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“One must, from time to time, attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.”

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I think I’m beginning to learn something about it.”

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“There’s nothing more absurd than a “connoisseur.”

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“You come to nature with all your theories, and she knocks them all flat.”

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“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

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“When I’ve painted a woman’s bottom so that I want to touch it, then the painting is finished.”

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“It is after you have lost your teeth that you can afford to buy steaks.”

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“Why shouldn’t art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.”

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“It’s with my brush that I make love.”

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“We are in a period of searchers rather than of creators.”

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If it [dabbling in art] didn’t amuse me, I beg you to believe that I wouldn’t do it.

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“Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained, it is no longer art.”

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“I have been for forty years, discovering that the queen of all colors was black.”

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“What seems most significant to me about our movement [Impressionism] is that we have freed painting from the importance of the subject. I am at liberty to paint flowers and call them flowers, without their needing to tell a story.”

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“I have arrived more definitely than any other painter during his lifetime; honors shower upon me from every side; artists pay me compliments on my work; there are many people to whom my position must seem enviable…. But I don’t seem to have a single real friend!”

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“The advantage of growing old is that you become aware of your mistakes more quickly.”

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God, the king of artists, was clumsy.

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Why should beauty be suspect?

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They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements. I prefer to believe that God created it and that it is inhabited by a nymph.

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A Tour of Artists you should Know

Women in the Arts

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“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
– Pierre-Auguste Renoir

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Photo Credit 1) Pierre-Auguste Renoir [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Pierre-Auguste Renoir [Public domain]

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