“I’ve been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black.” — Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on this day in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France in 1841. Today is the 173rd anniversary of his birth.
He was the sixth child born into a working class family. His father was a tailor and his mother a seamstress. When he was four the family moved to Paris, there Auguste attended primary school. By the time he was a teen he was working at the Lévy Frères factory, a porcelain factory. He already had an interest in art and he brought some of his drawings to work. He was …
chosen to paint designs on fine china. He also painted hangings for overseas missionaries and decorations on fans before he enrolled in art school. During those early years, he often visited the Louvre to study the French master painters. [Pierre Auguste Renoir.org]
His family lived near the Louvre and he often went there in his free time with his sketch book. “His favorite painting was The Bathers by FrançoisBoucher, a Rococo piece, which would later inspire some of his artwork.” [TotallyHistory.com]
At 21 he began to study art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he met Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro and Paul Cézanne.
He was invited to exhibit at the 1864 Paris Salon, but he continued to struggle financially, sometimes he didn’t even have enough money to buy paint.
While his Salon works helped raise his profile in the art world, Renoir had to struggle to make a living. He sought out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons. [Biography.com]
He served briefly in the French Army during the Franco-Prussian War, then returned to Paris at the end of the war. There he joined forces with his Impressionist friends to hold their own salon. The 1874 exhibit was a huge success. Renoir’s six pieces in the show brought him to the attention of wealthy art patrons, such as the Georges and Marguérite Charpentier. “His 1878 painting, ‘Madame Charpentier and her Children,’ was featured in the official Salon of the following year and brought him much critical admiration.” [Ibid],”
His success allowed him to travel internationally. Renoir went to Algeria, Madrid, and Italy. He met opera composer Richard Wagner in Palemrmo, Sicily and rather famously painted his portrait in 35 minutes. In 1883 he went to Guernsey for the summer.
In 1890 he married his longtime lover and muse Aline Charigot. They moved to a farm at Cagnes-sur-Mer near the Mediterranean to help alleviate the effects of Renoir’s rheumatoid arthritis. The condition left him wheelhair-bound, his joints were so swollen he couldn’t hold a brush and his limbs were misshapen. “In the advanced stages of his arthritis, he painted by having a brush strapped to his paralyzed fingers.” [Pierre Auguste Renoir.org] He died at the age of 78 on December 3, 1919.