Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919) was a French painter, one of the founders of Impressionism. His early works depict people and nature in light and color in an almost dreamlike way. In his later years, he favored more formal compositions with classical influences, often including nudes. His work is characterized by its radiant, expressive use of color as well as its intimate portrayal of human subjects.
Renoir was born in Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France, into a working-class family. He showed an early interest in art, and his mother even took him to an art exhibition when he was just seven years old. When he was 12, he began working as an apprentice for a porcelain painter. After a few years, he left Limoges to study art in Paris.
In 1862, Renoir met Claude Monet, another young artist who would later become one of the leaders of Impressionism. The two artists bonded over their shared interest in painting en plein air (in open spaces). They often painted together, and Renoir was deeply influenced by Monet’s work.
In 1874, Renoir married Aline Charigot, a woman he had met while working in a porcelain factory. The couple had three sons together: Pierre (born 1885), Jean (born 1894), and Claude (born 1899).
Renoir continued to develop his own style throughout his career. In the 1880s, he began painting more formal compositions, often with classical influences. In the 1890s, he started to use brighter colors and loose brushstrokes, in what is known as his “Fauvist” period.
In the early 1900s, Renoir’s health began to decline. He suffered from arthritis and rheumatism, which made it difficult for him to paint. In 1915, he had to stop painting altogether due to his failing vision.
Despite his health problems, Renoir continued to be a prolific artist up until his death in 1919. He left behind a large body of work that includes more than 8,000 paintings, 4,000 drawings, and 10,000 prints. His work can be found in major museums all over the world.