Who was Pierre-Auguste Renoir?

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the most eminent and celebrated figures in the history of French art. Considered to be one of the masters of Impressionism, he produced numerous paintings, including some of the most famous in modern art. He is often cited as one of the greatest painters of all time. His unique style, known as Impressionism, helped to bring art out of the realm of the elite and into that of the general public. Born in Limoges, France, in 1841, Renoir was one of seven children; both his parents were part of the local upper class. His father was an architect who planned for his son to take over the family business after finishing school. However, at age ten, Pierre's life changed forever when his mother succumbed to tuberculosis; his father eventually got remarried two years later.

Early Childhood of Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The son of a tailor and a seamstress, Renoir came from humble beginnings. He was the couple's sixth child, but two of his older siblings died as infants. The family moved to Paris sometime between 1844 and 1846, living near the Louvre, a world-renowned art museum which just so happened to be the epicenter for impressionist art. His father worked as a tailor and his mother as a seamstress, but their income didn't allow them to provide their only surviving son with much though he received his first formal art training from his precocious sister and neighbor, who was eight years older than him and had studied painting and drawing under Pierre-Narcisse Guérin.
As an amateur boy, Renoir learned to use pastels like a professional. As a teenager, he became an apprentice to a porcelain painter. He learned to copy designs to decorate plates and other dishware. Before long, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting to make a living. He also took free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by sculptor Louis-Denis Caillouette.
A nineteen-year-old Renoir started studying and copying some of the great works hanging at the Louvre. He then entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, a famous art school, in 1862. Renoir also became a student of Charles Gleyre. At Gleyre's studio, Renoir soon befriended three other young artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. And through Monet, he met such emerging talents as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.

Early Career of Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir biography: in 1864, Renoir won acceptance into the annual Salon exhibit. There he showed the painting, "La Esmeralda," which was inspired by a character from Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris. The following year, Renoir again showed at the prestigious Salon, this time displaying a portrait of William Sisley, the wealthy father of artist Alfred Sisley.
While he struggled to make a living, Renoir's works raised his profile in the art world. He found commissions for portraits and often depended on his friends, mentors, and patrons for support. Jules Le Coeur and his family supported the artist for many years. Renoir also remained close to Monet, Bazille and Sisley, occasionally staying at their homes or sharing their studios. According to many biographies, he seemed to have no fixed address during his early career.
Around 1867, Renoir met Lise Tréhot, a seamstress who served as the model for many of his paintings. She is reported to have given birth to his first child, a daughter named Jeanne. He never publicly acknowledged her as his daughter during his lifetime.
In 1870, Pierre-August Renoir was drafted into the French army when his homeland went to war with Prussia. He was assigned to a cavalry unit but he soon fell sick with dysentery and was sent home to recover. In 1871, however, he painted a portrait of his friend, the great sculptor Augustus Bazille, who was killed at the battles of Maneil and Rezonville later that same year.

Leader of Impressionism

Pierre-Auguste Renoir biography - Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 in Limoges, France. He spent much of his life in France and is known for the Impressionist paintings that he did. After the war ended in 1871, Renoir eventually made his way back to Paris. He and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Degas, decided to show their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition. The group's name is derived from a critical review of their show, in which the works were called "impressions" rather than finished paintings done using traditional methods. Renoir, like other Impressionists, embraced a brighter palette for his paintings. He also used different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas.
The wealthy publisher Georges Charpentier and his wife Marguérite took a great interest in the artist and invited him to numerous social gatherings at their Paris home. Through the Charpentiers, Renoir met such famous writers as Gustave Flaubert and Émile Zola. He also received portrait commissions from her friends. His 1878 painting, "Madame Charpentier and her Children," featured in that year's official Salon and brought him much critical admiration.

International Success

Renoir made several inspirational journeys in the early 1880s. He visited Algeria and Italy and spent time in the south of France. Renoir worked on a portrait of famed composer Richard Wagner while in Naples, Italy, and painted three masterworks, "Dance in the Country," "Dance in the City" and "Dance at Bougival", around this time.
He finally married his longtime girlfriend, Aline Charigot, in 1890. The couple already had a son, Pierre, who was born in 1885. Aline served as a model for many of his works, including "Mother Nursing Her Child" (1886). His growing family, with the additions of sons Jean in 1894 and Claude in 1901, also provided inspiration for a number of paintings.
Renoir later in his career used his signature feathery brushstrokes to depict mainly rural and domestic scenes. His work, however, proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism in the mid-1890s and the disease plagued him for the rest of his life.

Renoir's Final Years and Death

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, the French impressionist artist who was born near Paris in 1841, is best known for his paintings of women. In 1907, the painter bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he built a stately home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could. The rheumatism had disfigured his hands, leaving his fingers permanently curled. Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair. Around this time, he tried his hand at sculpture. He worked with assistants to create works based on some of his paintings.
Auguste Renoir was one of the most celebrated painters in history. He created more than 3,000 paintings in his lifetime, including works that are among the most famous in the world. Renoir lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist. He died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France. He was buried next to his wife, Aline (who died in 1915), in her hometown of Essoyes, France.

Oil painting reproduction of Pierre-Auguste Renoir