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Pierre-Auguste Renoir

 

Born: 1841-1919; France

 

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841, in Limoges, France. His father Leonard was a tailor, his mother a seamstress. In 1854 he was apprenticed to the Levy Brothers and began work as a painter in their porcelain factory in Paris. He began gaining experience with the light; fresh colors that were to distinguish his Impressionistic work and also learned the importance of good craftsmanship. The Rococo masters, whose works he studied in the Louvre, also influenced his predilection towards lighthearted themes.

 

In 1862 he entered the studio of Gleyre and there formed a lasting friendship with Monet, Sisley and Bazille. He painted with them in the Barbizon district and became a leading member of the group of Impressionists who met at the Café Guerbois. His relationship with Monet was particularly close at this time, and their paintings of the Beautiful spot called La Grenouillere done in 1869 (an example by Renoir is in the national museum, Stockholm) are regarded as the classic early statements of the Impressionist style.

 

Like Monet, Renoir endured much hardship early in his career, but he began to achieve success as a portraitist in the late 1870s and was freed for financial worries after the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel began buying his work regularly in 1881. By this time Renoir had traveled as far as Impressionism could take me', and a visit to Italy in 1881-82 inspired him to seek a greater sense of solidarity in his work.

 

In the 1890s Renoir began to suffer from Rheumatism and from 1903 (by which time he had come world famous) he lived in the warmth of the south of France. The rheumatism eventually crippled him (by 1912, he was confined to a wheel chair), but he continued to paint until the end of his life, and in his last years he also took up sculpture, directing assistants (including Richard Guino, a pupil of Maillol) to act as his hands.

 

Pierre Auguste-Renoir was perhaps the greatest Impressionist of all time.