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Happy Birthday Renoir!



AG 1971.5.1 Madame Renoir, Pierre Auguste Renoir 1916

Written by Angela Gonzalez, Curatorial Intern

French painter, sculptor and printmaker Pierre Auguste Renoir was born February 25th, 1841. He was one of the founders and leading artists of the Impressionist movement. Beginning in the late 1860’s, Impressionism broke the rules of traditional academic painting. Artists utilized various techniques such as applying paint in small visible strokes, mixing paint directly on the canvas and playing on the effects of natural light. The Paris based art movement favored an asymmetric horizon line while creating images of everyday, common subjects such as trees, fields or street scenes. When it came to portraying the figure, Impressionists focused on the average and ordinary person rather than religious leaders or royalty.

Renoir is best known for producing some of the movement’s most famous images containing carefree leisure. He started as an apprentice at a porcelain manufacturer where he would paint flowers and copies of Rococo artworks on plates. He saved his money and in 1862 enrolled in École de Beaux-Arts in Paris. Among his classmates were Claude Monet, Frederick Bazille and Alfred Sisley. Although Renoir may be best known for his colorful paintings of the commonality captured in intimate and candid compositions, he was also a sculptor.

Renoir’s sculptures started taking shape later in his life. At the age of 78, his brilliantly painted figures jumped off the canvas and took the form of bronze sculpture. Noticeably, the models and poses used for his sculptures are the same. Characterizing Renoir further are marks in the surface which parallel his signature brushstrokes.  A prime example of his bronze sculpture is Madame Renoir; a bronze bust depicting a woman with long hair wearing a hat. Part of The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens permanent collection, this sculpture embodies Renoir’s style and follows Impressionist ideals. Pierre Auguste Renoir died in southern France on December 3, 1919.

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