Renoir was born in Limoges, France in 1841. In his early life he was appreciated more for his singing than for his drawing. He took music lessons until his family encountered financial difficulties, which forced him to leave school and begin work as a painter in a porcelain factory. As a young man Renoir moved to Paris, entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He lived close to the Louvre, where he enjoyed studying the works of the Old Masters. Renoir was also inspired by the style and subject matter of the modern painters Camille Pissarro and Édouard Manet. In 1869 Renoir began sketching beside the water at La Grenouille, outside Paris, with Claude Monet. This was a turning point in a moment in the history of art as the two men simultaneously developed several of the theories, techniques and practices that would give rise to Impressionism
Renoir's work signaled a change in art and society. He often represented the emerging middle class in scenes that were about pleasurable occasions and leisure activities. He painted figures in fashionable dress, positioning his models in modern settings: crowded boulevards, cafés, theaters, sun-dappled parks, and elegantly appointed domestic interiors. Suzanne Valadon posed for numerous paintings that are some of his greatest works. She studied his techniques and went on to become one of the few successful women artists of the era. (See her post on this blog archive)
He evolved a technique of broken brushstrokes and used bold combinations of pure complementary colors, to capture the light and movement of his landscapes and figure subjects. He attempted to capture the play of light and a fleeting moment. Renoir’s paintings became popular with the Parisian elite, and he became a sought-after painter with numerous patrons.
During the 1870s Renoir traveled to Algeria, becoming the only one of the Impressionists to experience the region first-hand. From Algeria he traveled to Madrid to study the paintings of Velázquez, before heading to Italy where he studied the masterpieces by Raphael, Titian and other Renaissance masters.
In 1890, Renoir married Aline Victorine Charigot, a model for one of the figures in Luncheon of the Boating Party (1880-81). Together they had three sons, creating one of France’s great cultural legacies: The actor Pierre Renoir, the renowned film director Jean Renoir, ceramic artist Claude Renoir and grandson, Claude Renoir the filmmaker.
From 1907 Renoir, who was in ill health, like so many artists and writers, he headed south to Provence and spent his winters along the Mediterranean coast. It was here that he befriended the young Henri Matisse who was a frequent visitor. Renoir was so passionate about painting that he continued when he was old and suffering from severe arthritis. Renoir expressed, “if painting were not a pleasure to me, I should certainly not do it”.
Rejected by critics and the Salons of Paris, and an outsider for many years, he lived to see his work hang in the Louvre along with the Masters. Renoir's paintings and sculptures are in many major museum collections, and he became one of the most collected and reproduced artists in the history of art.
This week the classes were inspired by a Renoir landscape and a bouquet of Roses.
I chose Renoir as the artist of the week, as we
began our Spring lessons. The students selected either a landscape or still life to be inspired by.
Oil pastels were used to achieve bright colors and the textures closest to his oil paintings.
After laying in the horizon line and background colors, layers of detail were then applied. Many of the Saturday students were new to the class and they were so enthusiastic and did some lovely pieces.