Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is a well-known French artist. He was specifically popular, alongside Claude Monet, for his advocacy of the Impressionist art movement.
At the early age of 13, Renoir began his prolific career in the arts by painting flowers on porcelain dishware. In 1862, he became acquainted with Monet and Alfred Sisley who were also under the tutelage of Charles Gleyre. In 1864, he held his first paintings exhibit at the Paris Salon. Six of his paintings were included in the first Impressionist exhibition, which took place in 1874. Throughout the rest of the 1870s, Renoir’s devotion to Impressionist ideals remained constant.
Impressionist art is characterized by open compositions, vibrant light effects, and common subject matters. Renoir was famous for creating paintings that focused on people in intimate and usually candid compositions with notably vibrant light and saturated color. His primary subjects were of the female nude. His paintings appear as if the primary figures were fused with other figures and the surroundings, which is characteristic of the Impressionist style. His application of freely brushed colors was typical of the Impressionist’s visible brush strokes.
Renoir is also known for celebrating beauty and feminine sensuality. To quote Renoir, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
In the 1870s, Renoir was greatly influenced by his Impressionistic ideals. He produced typically Impressionist paintings that depicted real life in full color and vibrant lights.
His Impressionist works include:
- Mademoiselle Legrand 1875
- On the Terrace 1881
- Girl with a Hoop 1885
One of his best known works is the Bal au moulin de la Galette. The 1876 painting is one of the most celebrated masterpieces of the Impressionist movement. It is currently housed at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, France.
The painting illustrates what happens during a typical Sunday afternoon at a famous guinguette in Paris, which is the Moulin de la Galette, located in the Montmartre district of the City of Lights. During the later part of the 19th century, Parisians of the working class loved to dress up and dance at the popular garden. As with his other works of that time, Renoir’s painting of the Dance at Moulin de la Galette is a picture of real life, overflowing with the richness of Impressionist form, sparkling lights and fluid brush strokes.
In 1990, the painting was sold for an impressive $78.1 million. Indeed, it was a realization of a dream which he shared with Paul Durand-Ruel, art dealer. Renoir said to Durand-Ruel, “I want to paint stunning pictures that you can sell for very high prices.”
Renoir’s Impressionist paintings can be considered as the most well-known and most frequently reproduced in French art history. And although Renoir may have had several changes in his styles over the next years of his existence, he will forever be remembered for his Impressionist inspired paintings. Renoir was able to depict the beauty and richness of life in the most commonplace of themes.