Renoir's joyful and atmospheric work reflects the artist's own pleasant temperament. Renoir, one of the fathers of the Impressionist movement, painted beautiful scenes of the nineteenth century which celebrated simple human pleasures.
Renoir was born in Limoges, France in 1841. In 1844, his family moved to Paris. Ten years later, Renoir began his apprenticeship as a porcelain painter. After the porcelain company for which he worked went bankrupt, Renoir chose to dedicate himself to becoming a serious painter. In 1862, he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts while also studying at Charles Gleyre's studio. At this studio, he met Monet, Sisley and Bazille. Together, these artists would form the core group of Impressionists.
Renoir had his first showing at the Paris Salon in 1864. Between 1968-70, he shared a studio with Bazille and frequented the Cafe Guerbois, where many artists of the day would meet. In 1872, Renoir participated in the 'Salon des Refuses', where artists rejected from the official Paris Salon demonstrated their work. Two years later, Renoir would exhibit at the first Impressionist show. Together, the Impressionists would rebel against the traditional academic style. They painted outdoors and favored an exploration of color and light over methodical technique. Renoir began to establish his own reputation after his solo exhibit in Paris in 1883.
Renoir was not entirely faithful to Impressionism in the strictest sense. The artist's lifelong interest in and devotion to the figure differentiated him from the other Impressionists, who focused mainly on landscape. Renoir's favorite subjects were female nudes, children, flowers and group scenes. He was a society painter whose non-intellectual work portrayed the pleasures of daily life. Perhaps his most famous work, Le Bal Moulin de la Galette, portrays an outdoor cafe scene. This painting demonstrates Renoir's skills in capturing figures and light, and highlights his ability to portray the ordinary in an extraordinary fashion.
Renoir never entirely abandoned the academic tradition. After a trip to Italy in the 1880s, he painted in a classical style. He did, however, eventually return to more Impressionist methods. Later in his career, he used stronger and more vibrant colors. In 1903, he began to feel the arthritis which would affect his work until his death in 1919. Because of his illness, Renoir could not use his hands to paint, but instead tied brushes to his wrists in order to continue working.
Renoir is recognized as one of the most notable and independent painters of his time. His paintings are beautiful celebrations of human existence which continue to bring delight to their many admirers.