Renoir, Pierre-Auguste (1841-1919) by Scholes, Robert

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919) He was born in Limoges, but his family moved to Paris when he was four years old. At the age of seven, he went to the Christian Brothers School and joined the choir at the Church of Saint-Roch, where Charles Gounod was the choir-master. His talent for drawing was apparent early, and, when he was thirteen, his parents apprenticed him to a workshop for painting on porcelain, where he spent several years painting flowers on plates. When that business failed, he got a second job painting decorative scenes in the manner of Watteau, but finally, in 1862, he left that job and began studying painting formally, in the workshop of Charles Gleyre, where he met Sisley, Bazille, and Monet. When Gleyre retired, two years later, the young painters decided to continue on their own, and the rest, as they say, is history. Painting in the open air, away from the studio, they developed a style that was called, at first derisively, “impressionism,” which became one of the most admired modes in the history of painting. To oversimplify a bit, impressionism was based on using pure colors and letting the eye do the mixing, instead of blending the colors on the easel, which darkens them. The impressionists favored landscapes, but Renoir, in particular, liked to paint people, and especially people enjoying themselves.



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