Limoges 1841 - 1919 Cagnes
Pierre-August Renoir, one of the best loved of the Impressionists, always painted the beauties of nature: harmonious landscapes, flowers, fruit, children and women. He began his career at the age of thirteen as a painter on porcelain in a factory in Paris. He soon gave this up in favour of painting fans and decorating blinds, which he did until 1862, when he had saved enough money to support his ambition to study art. He enrolled in classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and in 1864 had his first painting accepted at the Paris Salon.
During this period Renoir also studied in the atelier of Charles Gleyre, where he became friends with Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille. In 1863 Manet’s Déjeuner sur l'Herbe caused uproar at the Salon des Refusés and made a deep impression on the group of young painters. They began to go on expeditions to the Forest of Fontainebleau to paint en plein air and started to develop a palette and style of painting that formed the foundation of Impressionism. In 1869 Renoir worked alongside Claude Monet at La Grenouillière on the Seine, producing what are considered to be the first landscapes painted in the Impressionist style.
Although Renoir continued to submit his works to the Salon throughout the early 1870s, he also continued to explore his new approach to light and colour and to forge strong links with other like-minded artists such as Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley and Edgar Degas. By 1874 the group was so disaffected by the constraints placed upon them by the Salon jury that they decided to mount their own exhibition which challenged the accepted tradition of official art exhibitions. In April 1874 the group held the first of the Impressionist exhibitions.
This group of artists exhibited eight times between 1874 and 1886 and Renoir participated on four occasions. In 1878 his painting Madame Charpentier and her children (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) was accepted at the Salon. The painting was critically well received and Renoir finally began to sell his paintings; for the first time he experienced a degree of financial security. As Renoir’s popularity grew he travelled more and gradually began to adopt a different approach to his art. The Impressionists were suffering from internal disputes which led Renoir to disassociate himself from them; consequently he did not take part in the eighth and final show in 1886.
Throughout the rest of his life Renoir’s work continued to develop. He visited the South of France, Italy and North Africa, where he painted dramatic, highly-coloured landscapes. He eventually married his mistress Aline Charigot and as his family grew he experienced a new contentment. In 1907, suffering from ill health, he purchased a property in Cagnes-sur-Mer near Nice on the Côte d’Azur where he settled with his family and painted until his death in 1919.