Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
Auguste Renoir was a porcelain painter when he began copying paintings in the Louvre in 1860. He joined Charles Gleyre’s workshop, where he made the acquaintance of Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. Though the four friends went frequently to paint in the forest of Fontainebleau, Renoir’s emphasis was on the human figure, his portraits revealing the influence of Courbet. After attempting and being refused entry to the Salon multiple times Renoir decided to create the Société des Impressionnistes with Monet. They held their first exhibition at Nadar in 1874, which heralded the emergence of a new pictorial art devoted to daily life and modernity.
But his predilection for portraiture, which earned him countless patrons, caused him to gradually distance himself from the principles of Impressionism, such as immediacy, as a result of which, he did not participate in the 4th Impressionist Exhibition in 1878.
Increasingly drawn to Classical art, he left for Italy in 1881 to capture the ‘grandeur and simplicity of the Old Masters’, conquered in the art of both Raphael and Pompeii; Renoir endowed his own figures with a sculptural design.
His search for the classic line gave way, in the late 1880s and early 1890s, to a growing interest in the colours of Rubens and Titian, as well as in the sensuality of 18th-century French painting (in particular, the nudes and genre scenes of Boucher and Fragonard). The French State commissioned Renoir to create a painting for the Luxembourg Museum, which was dedicated to the work of living artists. He was inspired by both Boucher and Fragonard, and painted five versions of Two Young Girls at the Piano, leaving the selection to the Minister of Beaux-Arts.
The elderly painter continued experimenting in the beginning of the 20th century, despite suffering from a painful deformity of his hands. He applied himself to sculpture, painted portraits influenced by the Renaissance and a series of bathers – with exaggerated voluptuousness still new to the period – thus revealing his aspiration toward the Arcadian ideal of the classical age.read more >>
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