Interpretive Resource

Artist Biography: Pierre Auguste Renoir

A concise biography about Renoir's life and work.

National Gallery of Art. Micro Gallery—National Gallery of Art. Online Content. Washington, D.C., 2004.

Auguste Renoir
French, 1841-1919
With Claude Monet, Renoir is known for his contributions to impressionism as the style developed in the late 1860s and early 1870s. In order to capture light and movement, their technique made use of broken brushstrokes and bold combinations of colors.

Like that of his contemporaries, much of Renoir's work depicted pleasurable occasions. He apparently once shocked his teacher by saying, "if painting were not a pleasure to me I should certainly not do it."

Renoir was born in Limoges in southwest France, where as a teenager he was apprenticed to a porcelain painter. In the early 1860s he attended Charles Gleyre's studio, where he met Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille. In 1869 Renoir and Monet worked together at La Grenouillère, where they created the style that was eventually labeled impressionism.

Renoir participated in several of the group's shows. He began to move toward a classicizing phase in 1879; this development was indebted in part to the work of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, which emphasized pure, clear line. It was also reinforced by a visit to Algeria in 1881, followed by a trip to Italy. Renoir's family and circle of acquaintances, as well as landscapes and still lifes, were his chief subjects from the late 1890s until his death. His late style combined the classicism of the 1880s with softer, almost diaphanous glazes of paint.



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