This week on the Prodibi Pixel Magazine, we focus on a French painter who is widely regarded as one of leading Impressionist painters: Auguste Renoir.
Auguste Renoir is best known for his combination of traditional outdoor scenes with the progressive aesthetic of Impressionism which gives a sense of the vigor of the then Parisian life.
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About the artist
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau".
An innovative artist, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 in Limoges, France. He started out as an apprentice to a porcelain painter and studied drawing in his free time. After years as a struggling painter, Renoir helped launch an artistic movement called Impressionism in the 1870s.
Although the young Renoir had a natural proclivity for drawing, he exhibited a greater talent for singing. His talent was encouraged by his teacher, however, due to the family’s financial circumstances, Renoir had to discontinue his music lessons and leave school at the age of thirteen to pursue an apprenticeship at a porcelain factory.
He learned to copy designs to decorate plates and other dishwares. Before long, Renoir started doing other types of decorative painting to make a living. He also took free drawing classes at a city-sponsored art school, which was run by sculptor Louis-Denis Caillouette.
Using imitation as a learning tool, a nineteen-year-old Renoir started studying and copying some of the great works hanging at the Louvre before entering the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, in 1862.
Renoir soon befriended three other young artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley. And through Monet, he met such emerging talents as Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.
In 1864, Renoir won acceptance into the annual Paris Salon exhibit where he showed the painting, "La Esmeralda," which was inspired by a character from Victor Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris.
After 1871, Renoir and some of his friends, including Pissarro, Monet, Cézanne and Edgar Degas, decided to show their works on their own in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition.
Renoir, like other Impressionists, embraced a brighter palette for his paintings, which gave them a warmer and sunnier feel. He also used different types of brushstrokes to capture his artistic vision on the canvas.
Funded with the money from his commissions, Renoir made several inspirational journeys in the early 1880s. He visited Algeria and Italy and spent time in the south of France. While in Naples, Italy, Renoir worked on a portrait of famed composer Richard Wagner. He also painted three of his masterworks, "Dance in the Country," "Dance in the City" and "Dance at Bougival" around this time.
As he aged, Renoir continued to use his trademark feathery brushstrokes to depict primarily rural and domestic scenes. His work, however, proved to be more and more physically challenging for the artist. Renoir first battled with rheumatism in the mid-1890s and the disease plagued him for the rest of his life.
In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer where he built a stately home for his family. He continued to work, painting whenever he could. The rheumatism had disfigured his hands, leaving his fingers permanently curled. Renoir also had a stroke in 1912, which left him in a wheelchair. Around this time, he tried his hand at sculpture. He worked with assistants to create works based on some of his paintings.
The world-renowned Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist. Renoir died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.
Besides leaving behind over two hundred works of art, Renoir served as an inspiration to so many other artists—Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are just a few who benefitted from Renoir's artistic style and methods.
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