Renoir, Pierre-Auguste(French, 1841-1919)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a central founder of the Impressionists, began his art training as an apprentice porcelain painter at the age of thirteen, and later studied at the art school of Charles Gleyre. The common practice at the art school of painting “en plein air” or “in the open air” became a touchstone for his later Impressionist sensibilities.
Through the community at the Atelier Gleyre, Renoir forged important friendships with Monet, Sisley, Bazille, Degas and Manet—with Renoir, this group became known as the Impressionists. Impressionism, sometimes identified as “optical realism,” is primarily concerned with visually denoting “movement,” and the changing effects of light and color in visible brushstrokes.
Upon returning from the Pyrenees, where he had trained horses for the Franco-Prussian War, Renoir returned to Paris, and an independent exhibition of the Impressionists was held in 1874. Following prolific travels to Normandy, Algeria, Spain, and Italy, Renoir married his model Aline Charigot, and she gave birth to sons Pierre, Jean and Claude. Although later bound in a wheelchair and dramatically impacted by muscular rheumatism, Renoir continued to paint and sculpt until his death in 1919.
Renoir’s substantial oeuvre includes more than 6000 paintings. In his sensitive portrayal of festive gatherings, domestic scenes, and female nudes, light itself is a primary “character.” Lush paintings with loose brushstrokes are characteristic of his earlier work; according to Renoir’s biography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, “from 1884 he adopted a more linear style indebted to the Old Masters.”
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