Innovative Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir came into this world in Limoges, France on February 25, 1841. In the beginning, when he found interest in art he became an apprentice to a porcelain painter. In his leisure time, he studied drawing. Renoir went through a difficult period as a painter and finally went on to help launch an artistic movement known as Impressionism in the 1870s,  becoming one of the most highly regarded artists of his time. He died at the age of 79 in 1919 in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.

Renoir and Claude Monet

Both of these artists studied under Master Charles Gleyre, a Swiss artist in 1862. They shared living quarters for a while in 1867. The three friends who painted together were Renoir, Monet, and Bazille. Renoir and Monet traveled to La Grenouillere quite often and coming as no surprise they each painted three paintings that were similar to one another.


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Renoir spent his time traveling all over Europe and Northern Africa in the 1880s. He was also eager to see the artwork of other artists so in Madrid, Spain he went to see the work of Diego Velazquez, in Italy to see the work of Titian, in Florence, Italy to see the work of Raphael and in Algeria the work of Eugene Delacroix. It is interesting to learn that when Renoir visited the famed German composer, Richard Wagner, in 1882 he was able to paint his portrait in 32 minutes.

Ingres Period and Marriage

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After Renoir had studies the artwork of Raphael and other Renaissance painters in Italy he chose to take a break from Impressionism and tried to paint in a more classic style, known as Renoir’s “Ingres period”. The artist married Alice Chariget in 1881 and she became his partner for life until her death in 1915. She appears on the famous painting titled “The Luncheon of the Boating Party”. This painting fascinates people because in it most everyone is gazing intently at someone, who in turn is gazing at someone else. The exception is Alice, who in the painting is playing with a tiny dog and not taking in her surroundings. The others in the painting are all friends and acquaintances of Renoir and shortly after this painting was completed he married Alice.

Broken Arm

Renoir’s father Jean Renoir was a French filmmaker, known for his movies “The Rules of the Game” and “Grand Illusion”. The artist’s brother Pierre Renoir became a well-known film actor best remembered for his role as Jericho in the film “Children of Paradise”. Falling from a bike Renoir broke his right arm and for awhile painted with his left arm. Later on, it was believed that this incident caused him to develop severe rheumatoid arthritis which in turn confined him to a wheelchair. Renoir became completely paralyzed in his right arm after 1898. As a result of this, he had to have a paintbrush strapped to his hand to be able to paint. However, the artist continued to paint up to the end of his life.

Paintings of Children

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Renoir was greatly admired for the painting he did of children. One particularly lovely painting was a portrait of his son and family nurse titled “Claude and Renee”. It can be viewed at the National Gallery of Canada where it has been since 1949. Claude or “Coco” as he was called was Renoir’s youngest child. His brothers were Pierre and Jean, who later became an acclaimed movie director.


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Renoir had a romantic relationship with a young woman, Lise Trehot, who was one of his first models. They lived together until about 1872 and she is the subject of many of the artist’s paintings – “Lise Sewing”, “Lise with a Lace Shawl” and “Lise with a Parasol”. Later on, their relationship broke up and she married a young architect with whom she had a family.

Visiting the Louvre

I don’t think that any one of the great artists went to see his own painting displayed but Renoir did. He visited the Louvre in 1919 just to see his paintings displayed there along with the masterpieces of other artists. Renoir died later in that same year 1919.



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