Tag Archives: Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Very Happy Birthday to Renoir, An Impressionist Master, February 25th

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 – 1919)

Much is written and available about Pierre-Auguste Renoir, one of the most influential Impressionist artists of the 20th century. Thus in honor of his 174th birthday, instead of writing about his achievements and art, presented instead is a list of some interesting and little known facts about him. They will hopefully create a better perspective of the man who celebrated beauty and light, and encourage further exploration into his amazing life.

Fact 1: Of all the Impressionist artists, it was Renoir who was most interested in painting humans and studying the portrayal of human emotions. Very often there is a sense of emotion in a scene he’s captured which comes from the figures in the scene and their behavior.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir “Les Baigneuses”, 1887, Oil on Canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Fact 2: In 1881 Renoir feared that he had been so swept up in Impressionism that he had forgotten how to paint properly. To rectify this he traveled to Italy, studying the classical art of the Renaissance painters like Raphael, which inspired him to create paintings with more solid definition and a specific focus. He emphasized volume, form, contours, and lines rather than color and brush stroke. His works from this time onward have been grouped together under the title of the “Ingres” period, reflecting their slight similarity to the technique of Ingres. This period is also known as Renoir’s “harsh” or “dry” period.

Fact 3: Renoir participated in Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee even though he was not a British citizen at the request of one of the queen’s associates. Renoir was asked to provide a number of paintings to the “French Impressionist Paintings” catalog as a sign of the artist’s loyalty.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir “The Great Bathers (The Nymphs)” 1918- 1919, Oil on Canvas; Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Fact 4: Renoir developed severe rheumatoid arthritis later on in life which confined him to a wheelchair. In the advanced stages of his condition, he strapped a paint brush to his paralyzed fingers so that he could continue to make art. Up until his death in 1919, Renoir spent a lot of time on one large-scale composition ‘The Great Bathers (The Nymphs)’ as well as sculpting, by directing his assistant in what he wanted to accomplish.

Fact 5: Just before his death in 1919, Renoir saw one of his canvasses displayed next to the work of his hero Paolo Veronese in the Louvre.

Fact 6: The single largest collection of Renoir’s works is not in his home country of France, but rather at the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania where a total of 181 paintings currently reside.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir “Dance at Moulin de la Galette” 1876, Oil on Canvas

Fact 7: Renoir’s joyful depiction of an open-air dance hall in Paris, “Au Moulin de la Galette,” is his highest publicly sold work of art, selling for $78.1 million. This makes it the 9th highest painting ever sold to this date and the artist part of an exclusive group that includes Van Gogh, Picasso and Gauguin.




More Articles on Renoir:

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Printmaking: Alive and Well

Fate threw Tatyana Grosman and her husband a bone when, in 1957, they happened to discover two lithographic stones in the front yard of their home in Long Island.  This unexpected discovery catapulted the Grosmans to printing and publishing acclaim and paved the way for the foundation of the United Limited Art Editions (ULAE).

Tatyana Grosman, photo by Hans Namuth

In the 1960s, ULAE was amongst the first groups of fine art print publishers to incite a revival of the art of printmaking through their creation of contemporary art prints. They were joined by studios such as the Tamarind Institute and Gemini Ltd., who also devoted themselves to the creation of original editioned works by contemporary artists.  The Tamarind Institute, in particular, prioritized the education of new printmakers and the development of new technologies such as light-fast inks and innovative ways to use aluminum plates.  Their efforts greatly contributed to a new generation of skilled master printers who were more than capable in translating an artist’s vision to print.

Andy Warhol, Self-Portrait, 1966, Offset Lithograph on Silver Coated Paper

While fine art printmaking flourished in Europe in the 1960s with artists such as Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, and Pablo Picasso working closely with master printers, 1960s America was more concerned with painting and sculpture. However, with the increased renown of Pop Art and artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein (who used screen printing to create unique original works), America’s interest in original prints steadily increased.  Large-scale, colorful prints began to appear in the art market, garnering increased recognition (and value).


As a gallery who specializes in fine art prints by renowned artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alexander Calder, and Chuck Close, Masterworks Fine Art recognizes the time, energy, and skill required to create a fine art print. The art of printmaking is a delicate collaboration between the artist and the master printer. As master ULAE printer Bill Goldston states, “The printer becomes a kind of alter ego to the artist.” Both artist and printer are necessary to achieve a common goal. John Dorfman states in “Freedom of the Press,” “The idea of help is very important in contemporary printmaking.”  This concept of “help” has always been an essential element of printmaking. From the days of Albrecht Dürer to contemporary times, artists have relied on master printers to assist them in tackling a difficult though remarkable medium.

Chuck Close, James, 2004, Color Screenprint

At Masterworks, we are often asked the age-old question, “Why do artists make prints?” Firstly, prints allow artists to create multiple works, thereby reaching a wider audience. Part of this drive is creative and perhaps part is driven by profit; nonetheless, prints provide a means for artists to make their artwork more accessible to the public. In turn, many artists become captivated with the technical aspects of printmaking. They view printmaking as a challenge and an opportunity to expand their creativity, opening a whole new door for artistic possibility.



Information derived from:

Dorfman, John. “Freedom of the Press.” Art & Antiques, March 2013.