Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Dates1841 - 1919

With Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir helped found Impressionism, freeing painting from having to tell a story. Artists could simply capture what they saw. The son of a tailor in Limoges, Renoir saved the money he earned from painting china, fans, and window shades to move to Paris. Gustave Courbet and the Old Masters in the Louvre were his first major influences. With Impressionism in the late 1860s, Renoir began using broken brushstrokes, his color became lighter, and he composed his canvases in patches of colored light. Unlike Monet, Renoir was interested in the figure. He stopped exhibiting with the Impressionists after 1877, when his portraits were accepted by the Salon, whose wide audience helped him market his work. With success as a portrait painter, Renoir traveled widely. In 1881, having "wrung Impressionism dry," he went to Italy. Under the Renaissance masters' influence, he aimed at classic form while retaining the Impressionist palette's luminosity. In later years, crippled with arthritis and wheelchair-bound, he painted with a brush strapped to his hand. He also created sculptures, dictating to an assistant who worked the clay.