Pierre Auguste Renoir

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Pierre Auguste Renoir (French 1841-1919) is second only to Monet among the great Impressionists. But where Monet dedicated himself to depicting the ever-changing qualities of nature, Renoir was captivated by people. He was entranced by women, and often painted friends and lovers in a shimmering style that makes his subjects seem to glow and radiate with cheer and good-feeling. Even when someone appears emotionally removed or lost in thought, one gets the feeling that the figure must be imagining some happy memory.

Pierre Auguste Renoir: A Glimpse of Beauty

Renoir's works are like quick glances. He does not go into deep detail, he instead seizes upon the appearance of his subject. He does not analyze. Renoir takes his subjects' laughter and joie de vivre at face value, and presents it in sun-dappled strokes.

Renoir also took extraordinary pleasure in images of modern day Paris. He found beauty and charm not only in the theatre and chic nightspots, but also in the cafes and side streets populated by the working class. He was able to find pleasure in painting every type of person, and there is no social snobbery or apparent political commentary in his work.

Renoir had an apparently generous goodwill toward all his subjects, but particularly the ladies. He is described as having an "ecstatic sensuality". Indeed, in his opulent paintings of women, the light seems not to just illuminate, but even to embrace them.

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