French Impressionism

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 - 1919)

    Renoir was born in Limages, France in 1841. He began drawing while he was still in government-run school, and when he was 13, he took a job as an apprentice in a china factory. There he painted on the dishes to build his skills. During this time, Renoir studied paintings and art at the Louvre and soon decided to make a career out of art. 
    His early style was like that of the Impressionists, who he was very active with. In Paris, Renoir studied under Charles Gleyre, where he met famous artists such as Claude Monet. Renoir made sure to keep his style compatible with current tastes, and because he followed the Impressionist main-stream so closely, he became one of the chief organizers of the Impressionist show in 1874.
    Renoir celebrated beauty in his paintings, especially the beauty of the female form. He often painted Camille Monet, Claude Monet's wife. He used vibrant light and bright colors in his paintings, which were often paintings of people, in society or in personal recreation. Madame Monet and Her Son, 1874, is one example of this painting of relaxed persons, featuring his favorite subject, Madame Monet.
Madame Monet and Her Son
    Renoir was accurately able to capture "real life" in his paintings, as reflected in late 19th-century French society. In Bal de Moiline de la Galette (1876), Renoir depicts an open scene of a dance, in which some people are dancing, while others are off to the side sitting and conversing with each other. This was typical of upper-class society.
Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette
    During the late 1800s, Renoir went on a trip to Rome and was fascinated by Raphael's paintings. This exposure combined with his earlier classical training under Gleyre had an effect on Renoir's own style. His paintings became more detailed with distinct elements. During this period, they would have been called "harsh" compared to the now popular Impressionist work. Dance in the Country (1883) is an example of a painting from 1883 which depicts this more detailed approach of Renoir's. Even so, by the end of the 1880s, his style had reverted to Impressionism again, even though there was more control in the brush strokes. 
    Renoir painted through the end of his life, despite worsening arthritis pain. His most popular subjects were landscapes and and portraits.
Dance in the Country