Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the leading artists of the Impressionist movement, alongside his colleague and friend Claude Oscar Monet. He was born in Haute-Vienne in the city of Limoges, France, in February of 1841. Three years later, his family moved to Paris, as his father was a modest tailor in search of a location with a better profit.
As a young man, Renoir showed great talent for drawing and singing, and their new home was near the prestigious Louvre Museum. Unfortunately, he had to leave his studies behind because of his family’s financial issues and began to pursue a career in decorative porcelain painting.
Renoir began his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and in 1871 he was mentored by Charles Gleyre. During this period that he met his fellow soon-to-be Impressionist colleagues; Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, and Frédéric Bazille – who died in the Franco-Prussian War at a young age. In 1864, Renoir began to exhibit his artwork at the traditional Paris Salon, but his work only became praised in the 1868 exhibit, with the oil painting entitled Portrait of Lise with Umbrella, concluded a year earlier.
His work was not usually well received by the Salon, and most paintings were rejected. Tired of not being recognized by the Academy, Renoir and his colleagues joined to create their own art exhibit in April of 1874, which was harshly critiqued. Although the overall exhibition was not a success, Renoir’s work was favored to the rest of the artists. The term Impressionism was originally pejorative and came from Monet’s painting Impression Sunrise, which shocked the public and critics for its avant-guard style.
The French artist was inspired by other modern painters that came before him, like Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet, who opened paths for the new generation of artists. In 1881, Renoir traveled to see works of masters like Eugene Delacroix and Diego Velazquez. During that same year, the painter concluded the masterpiece Luncheon of the Boating Party, in which Aline Charigot posed as a model – a woman he would marry nine years later. They already had a child together before the marriage, Pierre Renoir, who became an actor – afterward, Pierre had a son named Claude who worked with filmmaking. Renoir’s other children were also artists – like Claude, who worked with ceramics and the filmmaker named Jean.
The last phase of the painter’s career was the most challenging, as he developed rheumatoid arthritis around 1892 – a painful condition that forced him to move to a warmer location. In 1907, the Impressionist moved near the Mediterranean coast, in the French Riviera town called Cagnes-sur-Mer. His condition developed to a stage where he required assistance to grasp his paintbrushes. Renoir’s friend Richard Guino, who worked with clay sculptures, wished to help him by transferring his ideas into loose three-dimensional works and assisted him in this new medium.
In 1919, the Impressionist had the honor of seeing his artworks in the Louvre, and he passed away by the end of the same year.