Thursday, January 8, 2009

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the most well-known and beloved Impressionist painters. He painted Luncheon of the Boating Party (the first painting shown below), which hangs at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. He also painted Girl with a Watering Can (the second painting shown below) which can also be found here in D.C., at the National Gallery of Art, but which I remember best from the print that used to hang in my aunt’s entryway. The third painting shown below is one of Renoir’s most famous, Moulin de la Galette.
Renoir was born in 1841. His family moved to Paris when he was 3 years old. Even as a child Renoir showed a talent for art and began painting porcelain when he was 13.

He worked a few jobs but decided quickly that he wanted to be a painter. He went to school at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and studied the master paintings that hung at the Louvre Museum. He learned to paint polished, realistic paintings which he displayed at the official Salon beginning in 1864.
You may remember that artists who wanted to show their work at the Paris Salon had to send their work in to be accepted by a group of judges. The judges decided whose work was good enough to be displayed. For this reason, Renoir showed his most realistic paintings at the Salon. That was what was popular at the time.

Renoir met many of the painters who would become Impressionists. He and Claude Monet painted together several times. They would find a nice scene outside, set up their canvases, and paint quickly. They needed to capture the most important parts of the scene before the light changed. That’s why Impressionist paintings always look like they were painted quickly with fast brushstrokes and few details.

In 1870 France and Prussia went to war. Most artists of the time did not go to war, but Renoir did. When he returned, he moved into a studio in the center of Paris. He spent the next 10 years painting scenes of Paris life.
The first Impressionist exhibition opened in 1874. The Impressionist decided together which pieces would be shown. They hung the paintings at one level so each piece could be seen. They let visitors decide which paintings were the best, instead of telling them the way the Impressionists felt the Salon had. People liked the show and critics said good things about the Impressionists. Most of the paintings did not sell, though.

The Impressionists showed their work at their own exhibitions over the next few years, anyway. The style grew in popularity.

After the first exhibition, some collectors began asking Renoir to paint for them. This gave him money to continue painting in the Impressionist style. He used some of the money to travel. The collectors also helped make him even more famous.

In 1882, Renoir painted with Gauguin in the south of France. Over time Renoir split off from the other Impressionists. He did not show his work in the final Impressionist exhibition in 1886.
From 1885 and 1901, Renoir married and had three children. When his third child was born, Renoir was 60 years old. He continued to paint but many of his paintings from this time showed children and family life, like the painting shown above, Girls at the Piano.

In 1919, Renoir died. He was 78.

Return to main page.

7 comments:

Ms. Julie's Place said...

Oh how appropriate! Next week I am doing Renoir with my after school art class! The funny thing is that this schedule was planned out last summer. Too funny. Thanks for the info. I'll let you know how the project goes. I am planning on using oil pastels.

Jessica said...

Perfect timing! I'm definitely interested in how the project goes. I hope you'll post pictures!

Peter said...

You may not know (?) that the building where the first expressionist exhibition took place is still there (35 bd des Capucines), however somewhat remade and not possible to visit (unless you work in some of the offices there).

The exhibition took place in what was then the studio of Nadar.

Jessica said...

I did not know that. Thanks, Peter. It makes sense that they would hold it at someone's studio but I had never thought about it. It's unfortunate that you can't visit the building. I would be interested in seeing the place, even redecorated and in use as an office.

Thanks, also, for mentioning Nadar. I haven't posted about many photographers. Maybe it's time.

Anonymous said...

The first painting is "Luncheon of the Boating Party", not "Le Moulin de la Galette."

Jessica said...

The third painting (all the way at the bottom) is "Le Moulin de la Galette."

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

wow i had to do a homework task on this and it really helped! thanks