Auguste Renoir

"I think that I'm beginning to understand something about it."

- Renoir's last clearly audible words, spoken as he gave up his brushes after painting flowers on the morning of his death (cited in Jean Renoir, Renoir (Paris, 1962), p. 457)

The French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a founding member of Impressionism, retained his admiration for older art. His paintings of French people at leisure remain among the most popular European artworks.

Born to working-class parents, Renoir was apprenticed at 13 to a porcelain painter, M. Levy. In 1862-64 he attended the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He met his friends Alfred Sisley, Monet, and Frédéric Bazille on visits to the studio of Charles Gleyre. Renoir visited Italy and North Africa in 1881-1882, painting in the south of France with Cézanne and Monet in 1882-1883. In the late 1880s-1890s he painted Normandy, Brittany, Champagne and Provence. Renoir studied older art at the Louvre, and enjoyed visiting European museums. His works reflect his love of older art, including Courbet, Delacroix, Rubens, Titian, and 18th century French painting.

Renoir came under Monet's influence after sharing a studio with him in 1867. After rejections from the Salon, Renoir exhibited at the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874, but sought fame at the Salon, where he showed his portraits. In the 1880s, Renoir attempted more solid, clearly delineated forms in his painting. His brushwork became looser, and his colours warmer, from the 1890s. Renoir's art celebrates family (Claude and Renée, 1903), and the beauty of women.


1900Knight of the Légion d'honneur (Renoir had refused a decoration in 1890)1911Officer of the Légion d'honneur1919Commander of the Légion d'honneur

© Erich Lessing / Art Resource, NY

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