Pierre-Auguste Renoir Biography
An early leader of the Impressionist movement, Pierre-Auguste Renoir used small, multicolored strokes to evoke the vibrations of colour and light in iconic works such as Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, from 1876, and Madame Charpentier and Her Children, from 1878. Trips to Algeria, Italy and the South of France in the early 1880s led the painter to break from Impressionism, however, and to reflect his new appreciation of classicism’s emphasis on volume, form and line and of the Mediterranean’s colours and sensuality in such ravishing works as Reclining Nude, 1883, and The Braid (Suzanne Valadon),1884–86.
Born in Limoges, France, on February 25, 1841, Renoir discovered his talent for – and pleasure in – painting while apprenticed at a Paris porcelain factory at age 13. Later, while taking classes at the École des Beaux-Arts and the studio of painter Charles Gleyre, he met Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet and Frédéric Bazille who, like him, envisioned an art that was closer to real life. While the reception to their first Impressionist Salon in 1874 was mixed, Renoir’s career was launched thanks to commissions from his first great patron, publisher Georges Charpentier, and his circle of friends. As his fame grew, Renoir married his longtime partner, Aline Charigot, in 1890, and settled in the small village of Cagnes-sur-Mer in 1907. Continuing to paint and sculpt despite the debilitating effects of rheumatism and a stroke, Renoir died at home on 3 December 1919.
A prolific artist, Renoir is represented in numerous museums including the Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Courtauld Gallery, London; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, among many others.
According to Sotheby’s Mei Moses, the average compound annual return for Renoir resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 5.0% and 75.6% of 295 such works increased in value.
Why Pierre-Auguste Renoir?
Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colors. He primarily painted candid portraiture and the nude female figure. In each case, his paintings demonstrate free strokes of color through which figures fuse with each other and their surroundings. His best known for his painting Bal au moulin de la Galette ( Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette), 1876 which depicts an open-air scene in which crowds of people at a popular dance garden near where he lived. This iconic painting was sold for $78.1 million at an auction in 1990.
In the mid to late 1880’s Renoir gravitated towards figure drawings. The monumental work from this period is Grandes Baigneuses (The Large Bathers), 1884-87. The figures of this painting have a sculptural quality whereas the landscape is representative of impressionism. It is clear Renoir intended to reconcile the modern style of painting with classical painting traditions from the 17th and 18th centuries.