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 biography by B. E. White (2017); studies by W. Gaunt (1983), D. Rouart (1985), A. Distel (1995), and B. E. White (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Selected full-text books and articles

Renoir By Michel Florisoone; George Frederic Lees The Hyperion Press, 1938
Renoir Drawings By Auguste Renoir; John Rewald H. Bittner and Company, 1946
The Taste of Our Time By Guezelle Et Renouard Skira Inc., 1954
Boats on the Marne: Jean Renoir's Critique of Modernity By Prakash Younger Indiana University Press, 2017
FREE! Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aesthetics By 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
Re-Reading the Rules: Renoir's la Regle Du Jeu Reconsidered By Cardullo, Bert Post Script, Vol. 31, No. 1, Fall 2011
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Period Piece, Peace Picture: La Grande Illusion Reconsidered By Cardullo, Robert James The Midwest Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. 2, Winter 2012
The History of Impressionism By John Rewald Museum of Modern Art, 1961 (Revised edition)
Renoir All over Again By Klawans, Stuart The Nation, Vol. 269, No. 6, August 23, 1999
Renoirs from Massachusetts By Bruce, Donald Contemporary Review, Vol. 294, No. 1707, December 2012
"Late Renoir" By Dunham, Carroll Artforum International, Vol. 49, No. 2, October 2010
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