Pierre-Auguste Renoir

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Signature of Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir [ pjɛːʁ oˈgyst ʁəˈnwaːʁ ] (born February 25, 1841 in Limoges , Limousin , † December 3, 1919 in Cagnes-sur-Mer , Côte d'Azur ), often just called Auguste Renoir , was one of the most important French painters of impressionism .


Childhood and youth

Renoir was born to a working class family. His father was a tailor and his mother a tailor. When Pierre-Auguste was three years old, the family moved to Paris and found accommodation near the Louvre , which at the time was not only a museum but also housed offices and living quarters.

At the age of 13 Renoir started an apprenticeship as a porcelain painter . At the age of 15, he was already able to do this so well that the manufactory entrusted him with sophisticated painting work that was otherwise reserved for experienced porcelain painters. He was able to live independently from his wages and even support his parents. Around this time, however, mechanical printing processes for porcelain took hold, and the factory had to close when he was 17 years old. Renoir now had to make a living by painting fans and awnings and coloring coats of arms.

Dancer, 1874 (Danseuse)

Renoir's impressionist phase

1861–1864 Renoir studied painting in the class of the Swiss painter Charles Gleyre . Soon, however, he looked for other artistic role models than his teacher, namely Gustave Courbet and Díaz de la Peña , whom he had met by chance while painting in the forest and who encouraged him to always paint from life and the model. He made friends with Claude Monet , Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille and painted with them outdoors. In 1864 a picture of him was first accepted for the Paris Salon , often simply called the Salon. In the Salon of 1868 he was represented with the picture Lise with the parasol , for which Lise Tréhot was the model. She was Renoir's lover from about 1865 to 1871.

His outdoor experiences also had an impact on his studio pictures. Critics took notice of him and praised the freshness and naturalness of his pictures. Nevertheless, there were hardly any buyers. In 1869 Renoir lived in such abject poverty that, as he later wrote himself, he did not even have something to eat every day.

The Lodge, 1874 (La loge)

In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, Renoir volunteered for a cavalry regiment, but was only stationed far away from the fighting. In 1871, when he returned to Paris, he was caught in the uprising of the Paris Commune . Forced into conscription by the Communards, he got into great difficulties when he tried to flee Paris and was captured by the troops on the other side.

After the war he soon got back in touch with his friends Monet and Sisley and spent a lot of time with them and with Édouard Manet in the summers of the 1870s . A well-known painting by him from that period shows the Monet family in the garden of their house in Argenteuil. Manet has his own interpretation of the same subject. Both Manet and Renoir had placed their easels side by side and painted the same scene.

Dance in the garden of the Moulin de la Galette, 1876
( Bal au Moulin de la Galette )

Renoir loved to depict social events and to translate joie de vivre into pictures. Despite the movements of the people portrayed as in dance in the Moulin de la Galette and the exuberance, he integrated small still lifes .

Unlike Monet and the other Impressionists, Renoir continued to endeavor to have his pictures included in the Salon, but in 1874 he participated with great enthusiasm in the preparation and implementation of the first Impressionist exhibition, as well as the exhibition of 1876.

He managed to sell pictures to the art dealers Paul Durand-Ruel and Père-Martin. Durand-Ruel, a great patron of the Impressionists, gave him money so that Renoir could rent a studio. However, this income was so tight that it was just enough to make a living.

His financial situation turned for the better in the mid-1870s when Renoir met the customs officer Victor Chocquet and the publisher Georges Charpentier and received orders from them for portraits and a large panel painting. Thanks to the advocacy of the influential Madame Charpentier , his circle of acquaintances in better society expanded, and in the following years he received so many portrait commissions that they even became annoying to him at times.

In the years 1881/1882 Renoir made three major trips to Algeria, Italy and again to Algeria. In 1882 he portrayed the composer Richard Wagner in Palermo .

Post-impressionist phase of life

Moulin Huet Bay (1883)

After a stay in Italy in 1881, while reading a handbook for painters written around 1400, he orientated himself heavily on Raphael's frescoes and on Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres , the Ingres period or dry period began . Renoir began to orientate himself from scratch, he turned away from the spontaneous and drew the shapes more sharply, but stuck to the motifs full of joie de vivre. He also turned away from impressionism and towards classicism . A trip in September 1883 took him to the island of Guernsey , where he created a number of paintings, including Moulin Huet Bay .

The great bathers, 1887 (Les Grandes Baigneuses )

Around 1883 Renoir got into a creative crisis. At that time he sensed a lukewarm disinterest in the audience and in the critics, and he said about himself that he was in an artistic dead end. The work of those years culminated in the painting The Great Bathers from 1887, in which he had invested years in preliminary studies and which contains a wealth of art-historical quotations.

On March 23, 1885, his lover Aline Charigot, whom he met in the early 1880s and who had accompanied him to Italy, gave birth to his first child, his son Pierre Renoir , who later became known as an actor. On April 14, 1890, Renoir married Aline. The second son Jean Renoir , born in 1894, later took up the profession of film director. The third son Claude, also called "Coco", was born on August 4, 1901.

At the end of the 1880s he found his joy in color and in fluid, sensual painting. The departure from his Impressionist painting style of the 1870s, however, remained permanent.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, around 1910

Around 1892, Renoir showed the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis . At the time, gout was mistakenly diagnosed. After several spa stays, he noticed that he was doing better in the mild Mediterranean climate, and in 1907 he moved permanently to Les Collettes , a country house with a large garden in Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice. A museum was built there in his honor in the 20th century.

Despite his illness, he painted incessantly. Renoir was now in a wheelchair and, according to his own statements, had the brush tied to his hand every day because he could no longer hold it. Through Aristide Maillol Renoir got the opportunity to work with his student Richard Guino. With this collaboration Renoir was able to once again produce works such as u. a. Venus Victrix, The Great Washerwoman (1917) and Mother and Child (1916) realize.

Pïerre-Auguste Renoir died in 1919 at the age of 78 and left around 6,000 works: landscapes, still lifes, portraits of adults and children, nudes, pictures of dancing and family life. His grave is in the cemetery in Essoyes in the Aube department in Champagne .

Works (selection)

image title When originated Size, material Exhibition / collection / owner
Renoir Flowes in a Greenhouse @ Kunsthalle Hamburg.JPG
Flowers in greenhouse 1864 Oil on canvas Hamburger Kunsthalle
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Mademoiselle Romaine Lascaux.jpg
Mademoiselle Romaine Lascaux 1864 81 × 65 cm, oil on canvas Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland
Pierre-Auguste Renoir-Frédéric Bazille.jpg
The painter Bazille at his easel 1867 105 × 73 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 020.jpg
Diana as a huntress 1867 197 × 132 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Renoir Lise With Umbrella.jpg
Lise with the parasol 1867 184 × 115 cm, oil on canvas Folkwang Museum in Essen
Renoir clown.jpg
The circus clown 1868 192 × 128 cm, oil on canvas Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - En été (La Bohémienne) .jpg
In summer 1868 85 × 59 cm, oil on canvas Old National Gallery in Berlin
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 108.jpg
The Sisley couple 1868 105 × 75 cm, oil on canvas Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud in Cologne
Auguste Renoir - La Grenouillère.jpg La Grenouillère 1869 66 × 86 cm, oil on canvas Swedish National Museum in Stockholm
Pierre Auguste Renoir - La Promenade.jpg
The walk 1870 80 × 64 cm, oil on canvas J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles
Pierre-Auguste Renoir-Odalisque.jpg Odalisque 1870 69 × 123 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 090.jpg Pont-Neuf 1872 74 × 93 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 071.jpg Madame Monet on the divan 1872 54 × 73 cm, oil on canvas Museu Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Claude Monet painting in his Garden at Argenteuil.jpg Claude Monet, painting in his garden at Argenteuil 1873 46 × 60 cm, oil on canvas Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Madame Monet and her Son.jpg Madame Monet and her son 1874 51 × 68 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 023.jpg
The lodge 1874 80 × 64 cm, oil on canvas Courtauld Institute of Art in London
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Danseuse.jpg
dancer 1874 142 × 93 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 089.jpg
The Parisian 1874 82 × 101 cm, oil on canvas National Museum Cardiff in Cardiff
Pierre Auguste Renoir - After Bathing - 1055 - Österreichische Galerie Belvedere.jpg
After the bath 1876 (glazed): 92.4 × 73.2 cm, oil on canvas Belvedere in Vienna
Auguste Renoir - La Balançoire.jpg
The swing 1876 92 × 73 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette.jpg Bal au Moulin de la Galette 1876 131 × 175 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre Auguste Renoir La-sortie du Conservatoire.jpg
The excursion of the conservatory 1876-1877 187 × 117 cm, oil on canvas Barnes Foundation in Merion near Philadelphia
Jeanna Samary-Renoir.png
Jeanne Samary 1878 173 × 102 cm, oil on canvas General Staff Building in Saint Petersburg
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 094.jpg Madame Charpentier and her children 1878 131 × 88 cm, oil on canvas Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Seascape.JPG The wave 1879 64.8 × 99.2 cm, oil on canvas Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 124.jpg Rowers in Chatou 1879 81 × 100 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party - Google Art Project.jpg The rowers' breakfast 1880-1881 130 × 173 cm, oil on canvas Phillips Collection in Washington, DC
Renoir Doges' Palace, Venice.jpg The Doge's Palace in Venice 1881 54.5 × 65 cm, oil on canvas Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts
Le Grand Canal, Venise (Gondole) 1881 54 × 64.8 cm, oil on canvas At Koller in Zurich in December 2014, US auctioned
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 141.jpg Fruits of the south 1881 51 × 68.5 cm, oil on canvas Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Umbrellas, ca.1881-86.jpg
The umbrellas 1881-1885 180 × 115 cm, oil on canvas National Gallery in London
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Richard Wagner.jpg
Richard Wagner 1882 53 × 46 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 019.jpg
Dance in the city 1882-1883 180 × 90 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre Auguste Renoir - Country Dance - Google Art Project.jpg
Dance in the country 1882-1883 180 × 90 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Portrait of Paul Haviland, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1884 - Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art - DSC08996.JPG
Portrait of Paul Haviland 1884 57 × 43 cm, oil on canvas Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City
Renoir Children's Afternoon in Wargemont.jpg Children's afternoon in Wargemont 1884 Oil on canvas Museum Alte Nationalgalerie , Berlin
Pierre-Auguste Renoir Girl with Whip.jpg
The child with a whip 1885 81 × 92 cm, oil on canvas General Staff Building in Saint Petersburg
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, French - The Large Bathers - Google Art Project.jpg The great bathers 1887 115 × 170 cm, oil on canvas Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 158.jpg
Young girls at the piano 1892 116 × 90 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 048.jpg
Jean Renoir , sewing 1900 55 × 46 cm, oil on canvas Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud in Cologne
Le Jugement de Pâris, par Pierre-Auguste Renoir.jpg The judgment of Paris 1908 81 × 100 cm, oil on canvas Phillips Collection in Washington, DC
Renoir - Banhista Enxugando a Perna Direita.jpg
Bathers drying their legs 1910-1911 84 × 65 cm, oil on canvas Museu de Arte de São Paulo in São Paulo
Renoir - Sitting Girl.jpeg Sitting girl 1910-1917 Black chalk Albertina (Vienna)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir 125.jpg Rest after the bath 1918-1919 110 × 160 cm, oil on canvas Musée d'Orsay in Paris


According to the art critic Raymond Cogniat, Renoir's life can be divided into four phases: "The first, from the beginnings of the painter to the first years of Impressionism, includes family scenes, portraits of relatives and friends. In the second period, the commissioned portraits are made, so receives Renoir's recognition in the discerning bourgeoisie. The third period shows more elaborate paintings, contours and clarity of the representations become more professional. Complete independence is found in the fourth phase, in which his environment such as children, wife and housemaid Gabrielle are included ".

In the exhibition Renoir, Impressionism, and Full-Length Painting conceived by curator Colin Bailey at the Frick Collection in New York City 2012, Renoir can be experienced not only as a color connoisseur , but also especially as a clothing fashion connoisseur. Only his portrait-format full-body pictures from the years between 1874 and 1885 were included in the show.

The film Eine Landpartie (shot in 1936, published in 1946) by his son Jean Renoir is a homage to his father, in this film he recalls Pierre-Auguste Renoir's impressionist paintings of land parties and canoeists. 1952 was created with Joy of Living; The Art of Renoir is an Oscar- nominated short film by Jean Oser that deals with the life and work of the artist.

The film Renoir , shot in 2012, shows the protagonist Renoir and the actress Catherine Hessling , one of his last nude models, who was married to his son Jean Renoir.


The asteroid (6677) Renoir and the Mercury crater Renoir are named after him.


Web links

Commons : Pierre-Auguste Renoir  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Nationalgallery , Moulin Huet Bay , accessed June 15, 2011.
  2. Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Aline Charigot . In: Tatjana Kuschtewskaja : Secrets of beautiful women. Famous artists and their models . Grupello Verlag, Düsseldorf 2018, ISBN 978-3-89978-301-8 , pp. 82–91.
  3. ^ Website of the city of Cagnes-sur-mer with Musée Renoir (fr) ( Memento of October 12, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Neret, Gilles: Renoir, Taschen Verlag, Cologne, 2019, pp. 468–469
  5. Neret, Gilles: Renoir, Taschen Verlag, Cologne, 2019, p. 224
  6. According to Bailey, the underlying facts were: “Renoir's father and brothers were tailors. His mother and many of his friends were seamstresses. "
  7. Deutschlandradio Kultur from February 16, 2012: “Big Throws” - The Frick Collection in New York shows Pierre-Auguste Renoir's full-body pictures.
  8. Pierre-Auguste and Jean Renoir in the Musée d´Orsay - childhood in the studio. Accessed December 3, 2019 (German).