Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir, Pierre Auguste

Pierre Auguste Renoir (pyĕr ōgüst´ rənwär´), 1841–1919, French impressionist painter and sculptor, b. Limoges. Renoir went to work at the age of 13 in Paris as a decorator of factory-made porcelain, copying the works of Boucher. In 1862 he entered M. C. Gleyre's studio, where he formed lasting friendships with Bazille, Monet and Sisley. His early work reflected myriad influences including those of Courbet, Manet, Corot, Ingres and Delacroix. He began to earn his living with portraiture in the 1870s; an important work of this period was Madame Charpentier and her Children (1876; Metropolitan Mus.). Simultaneously he developed the ability to paint joyous, shimmering color and flickering light in outdoor scenes such as The Swing and the festive Moulin de la Galette (both: 1876; Louvre). Renoir traveled in Algeria and in Italy (1881–82), returning to Paris where a successful exhibition (1883) established him financially. He had gone beyond impressionism. His ecstatic sensuality, particularly in his opulent, generalized images of women, and his admiration of the Italian masters removed him from the primary impressionist concern: to imitate the effects of natural light. After a brief period, often termed "harsh" or "tight," in which his forms were closely defined in outline (e.g., The Bathers, 1884–87; private coll.), his style of the 1890s changed, diffusing both light and outline, and with dazzling, opalescent colors describing voluptuous nudes, radiant children, and lush summer landscapes. From 1903, Renoir fought the encroaching paralysis of arthritis at the same time that his work attained its greatest sensual power and monumentality. Despite illness and personal tragedy he began to produce major works of sculpture (e.g., Victorious Venus, Renoir Mus., Cagnes-sur-Mer). Among his most celebrated paintings are: Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881; Phillips Coll., Washington, D.C.); Dance at Bougival (1883; Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston); Lady Sewing (Art Inst., Chicago); and Bather (1917–18; Philadelphia Mus. of Art). Renoir's work is represented in most of the important galleries in the world. The Art Institute of Chicago; the Barnes Collection, Merion, Pa.; Clark Institute, Williamstown, Mass.; and the Louvre have large collections. His son, the film director Jean Renoir, wrote a biography (tr. 1962).

See studies by W. Gaunt (1983), D. Rouart (1985), and A. Distel (1995).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Renoir
Michel Florisoone; George Frederic Lees.
The Hyperion Press, 1938
Renoir Drawings
John Rewald; Auguste Renoir.
H. Bittner and Company, 1946
The Taste of Our Time
Guezelle Et Renouard.
Skira Inc., 1954
Librarian’s tip: "The Message of Renoir" begins on p. 101
The Expanding Discourse: Feminism and Art History
Norma Broude; Mary D. Garrard.
Westview Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 16 "Renoir and the Natural Woman"
FREE! Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics
Julius Meier-Graefe; Florence Simmonds; George W. Chrystal.
G. P. Putnam's Sons, vol.1, 1908
Librarian’s tip: "Renoir and His Circle" begins on p. 287
An Outline of 19th Century European Painting: From David through Cézanne
Lorenz Eitner.
Westview Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: "Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919" begins on p. 368
History of Modern Painting: From Baudelaire to Bonnard: The Birth of a New Vision
Maurice Raynal; Stuart Gilbert.
Albert Skira, 1949 (2nd edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Renoir" begins on p. 41
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