Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges, brought up in Paris and settled in 1845. From the age of thirteen he worked as an apprentice painter, painting flowers on porcelain plates. This early apprenticeship left a certain trace on his art, which was always decorative in spite of its later realism. After machines for colouring ceramics had been introduced, he had to switch to decorating fans and screens. Keen to become a professional painter, Renoir saved some money to pay for his tuition fees and in 1862 ,entered the Atelier Gleyre. Here Renoir made friends with Monet, Sisley and Bazille; some time later he met Pissarro and Cézanne.
He first exhibited at the Salon in 1864. In 1867, he and Monet lived at Bazille’s house. In 1868-1870, he shared a studio with Bazille in Paris. He spent the summer of 1869 with Monet at Bougival on the Seine; together they worked out the main principles of the Impressionist method. He worked at Argenteuil and in Paris. Renoir participated in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1874, 1876, 1877 and 1882 and was a founding member of the review L’Impressionniste (1877), where he published his article on the principles of contemporary art.
By the late 1870’s the salon had accepted several of his paintings. In 1880, he met Aline Charigot, a common woman, whom he would marry in 1890, they had 3 sons: Pierre (1885-), Jean (1894 – ), who would become an important film director, and Claude (1901- ), called “Coco”. The same year, 1880, Renoir broke his right arm and for some time painted with his left hand. In 1881, he travelled to Algeria, later to Italy, where he was impressed by Raphael and the Pompeii frescoes.
In 1886, the art dealer Durand-Ruel exhibited 32 of Renoir’s paintings in New York, thus opening the American market for Impressionism. The evidence of Renoir’s (and other Impressionists’) success in the USA is the great number of their pictures in American museums. In December 1888, Renoir suffered the first attacks of arthritis, which would cripple his hands; in 1898 after a serious attack of the disease his right arm was paralyzed. From now on he painted, overcoming strong pains, strapping a brush to his wrist. Renoir died in Cagnes on 3 December 1919 and was buried in Essoyes.