Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)
February 25, 1841 in the town of Limoges in southern France, the fourth child was born in the tailor’s family – a boy named Pierre Auguste. A few years later, the entire Renoir family moved to Paris. From early childhood, Auguste was distinguished by excellent drawing abilities, as well as a magnificent voice.
The head of the church choir, where the young Renoir sang, even advised his parents to think about their son’s musical career (by the way, it was Charles Gounod, who later wrote the famous opera Faust). But the family of the future artist was not rich, and his father saw a different future for his son – the prestigious and well-paid work of the artist in china.
So, in 1854, at the age of thirteen, Auguste entered the porcelain factory. The young man liked this profession, he quickly learned and began to paint cups and saucers, and then entire services. At the same time, the young man often went to the Louvre, where he painted, inspired by antique sculpture and painting by the Rococo artist Francois Boucher, who wrote light genre scenes. Over time, Renoir began to copy them in porcelain paintings.
The young man made good money for his age. To advance in his career, he entered a porcelain factory, where he began to paint under the guidance of a sculptor and a colleague in a porcelain factory, who predicted a bright future for him in the field of art.
Youth of the artist
Unfortunately for the young Renoir, but fortunately for everyone else, the technological progress of the 19th century was marked by an almost complete rejection of manual production. The porcelain painting was supplanted by printed drawings. Buyers and workshop owners were attracted by the fact that printing equipment ensured the production of exactly the same products. Over time, hand painting has ceased to be valued.
The young man, desperate at first, tried to paint products with great speed, which did not bring him success. As a result, he had to look for other earnings. The time has come for temporary work with the constant development of various techniques. Renoir first painted fans and walls of Parisian cafes, then accidentally got a job as a curtain master. By the way, he mastered this technique to perfection and again began to make good money, but the artist did not want to rest on his laurels, since this occupation was definitely not the limit of his dreams. Renoir set aside all the money he earned on a new dream – painting at a special School at the Academy of Arts.
At the end of 1862, Auguste Renoir fulfilled his cherished desire and entered the Paris School of Fine Arts. There he ended up in the studio of the artist Charles Gleyre, adhering to the academic style. The young man already had considerable experience, but conscientiously attended all classes and studied academic drawing. However, Glair immediately did not like how Renoir worked with color: even then the artist used juicy bright colors, which was not welcomed in the academic environment. Once, the teacher even expressed fears that his free-loving student would not become the second Delacroix – the leading representative of French romanticism, who worked beautifully in color and is a real idol of Renoir, but who, in the eyes of academic artists, is a former "apostate". Auguste was not the only young artist in the workshop of Gleur, who tried to rebel against the academic manner and find his own new path. He very soon became friends with Claude Pug, Alfred Sisley and Frederick Bazil, who had very close views on the painting and heatedly discussed the possibilities of its revival, by which they understood liberation from the shackles of academism. A little later, Camille Pissarro joined them.
The training did not last long, only a year later Renoir was forced to leave the school of painting, because he could no longer pay for it. He replaced the classes in the workshop with work in the open air, along with his new friends, who soon also unexpectedly completed their art education due to the fact that the workshop was closed. All of Renoir’s comrades were similar not only in their desire to change the world of art, but also in that they could hardly find means for food and materials for work.
In 1866, Renoir wrote one of his early still lifes, “Still Life with a Large Flower Vase” (Vogt Museum of Art, Cambridge), written in the style of Dutch still lifes and giving a joyful impression with its bright but delicate and at the same time rich colors. In the same year he creates the painting “Inn of Anthony’s Inn” (1866, National Museum, Stockholm). Unlike flowering still lifes, the color scheme of this work is rather dark, with a dominant black color. The visual expressiveness is based on contrast: the black costumes of the tavern visitors emphasize the snow-white tablecloths on the table, and also sharply contrast with the bright spots of the white-collar workers, the apron of the attendant woman, the light wide-brimmed hat of one of the heroes and the white dog lying under his feet.
The work vividly demonstrates Renoir’s skill and principles in constructing a composition with the help of color: a snow-white tablecloth is enclosed in a ring consisting of black figures, which are prevented from merging into the general mass by interspersing white accessories. The application of white spots literally “in a checkerboard pattern” gives particular harmony to the distribution of colors. The picture characterizes the artist as a wonderful portrait painter and a magnificent master of still life: the entire table setting was made out with great skill, the remnants of food and utensils are unusually realistic.
A year later, the artist paints a portrait of his beloved girlfriend Lisa Treo, whom Renoir met for more than seven years, but never married. In the end, Lisa broke off their relationship and, just a few months later, married a young architect.
Nevertheless, the painting "Lisa" (1867, the Museum of Folkwang, Essen) was accepted for participation in the Salon of 1868, where it was positively appreciated by the audience, which was a great success for the still unknown artist. In the picture, the girl is depicted in full growth, she is wearing a white dress, shaded by a wide black belt and a black umbrella from the sun. The girl’s light dress seems to be flooded with bright sunshine, and glare of light plays on the shoulders and face of the heroine, covered with an umbrella. This delicate black-and-white game continues on the trunk of a birch, which is behind Lisa’s back and on the grass at her feet, where dark shadows sharply border the sunlit areas.
In 1867, Renoir created another painting, for which Lisa Treo posed for “Diana the Huntress” (National Gallery of Art, Washington). Due to the moral principles of the era, the artist could not depict a modern woman naked, so he put a hunting bow in her hands and named the picture a mythological name, which gave his work the right to official existence, while avoiding the scandal caused by the 1863 painting “Breakfast on the Grass””Eduard Manet.
The artist, who was keenly interested in the portrait genre, often wrote his impressionist friends, depicting them in a familiar atmosphere during everyday activities, thus combining portrait with genre painting and creating documentary sources telling us about the lives of these people.
The painting “Portrait of Frederic Bazil” (1867, Museum d’Orsay, Paris) shows us a young Bazil busy, of course, painting. The artist, turned to the viewer in profile, is focused on his work. Stylistically, the work of smirking surprisingly seamlessly, partly due to the almost monochrome color scheme. It resembles an elaborate black and white photograph in which volumes are modeled using chiaroscuro. A year later, Renoir creates a pair of “Portrait of Alfred Sisley with his wife” (1868, Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne). On the canvas we see how emphasized Sisley is to his young wife. His whole posture expresses his readiness to serve, support and help a woman, as well as his love and tenderness for her. The young married couple depicted on the canvas, as if exudes the light of happiness and love.
Renoir’s work “Algerian Woman” (1870, National Art Gallery, Washington) was a tribute to the delight of Eugene Delacroix. In it, the artist portrayed his Lisa in the image of an odalisque, a bright, luxurious oriental woman, languidly reclining on pillows, dressed in magnificent dresses and beckoning to herself. On this canvas, Renoir seems to revel in color. The figure of a reclining heroine occupies almost the entire space of the canvas, it seems that the picture lacks air.
Commitment to Impressionism
Auguste Renoir quite often worked together with another prominent representative of the young impressionists, Claude Monet. Artists painted from the same nature, observed light and shadow in nature, and studied the possibilities of the palette in conveying these effects. An example of their union is the famous paintings “Frogs” – paintings painted not only from one nature, but also named the same. The plot of the paintings is simple – a floating cafe with a fun audience on the background of wooden boats waiting for their passengers.
Renoir, an optimist by nature, through all his work carried the love of displaying the holiday of life, dancing or resting ladies and gentlemen. The artist tried not to pay attention to the dark side of life, he sincerely believed that art should give people wonderful moments of pleasure, and not fulfill the role of edification or boring teaching.
The Renoir “The Frog” (1869, the National Museum, Stockholm) at first glance seems like a sketch, but not a finished work at all, the cropping of the scene is as if random. To a certain extent, it was so, the scene is depicted exactly as the artist saw it, without a sophisticated thoughtful composition, balancing plans and building perspectives.
The artist pursued a completely different goal – to capture and convey the atmosphere of fun and carefree on a warm summer day, to catch glare of light on the water, solar reflexes on ladies’ dresses (although these ladies can be called a stretch: most of the heroines of the picture are damsels of easy commanding, an inhabitant of a cafe with a dubious reputation). Working with live nature required painting in a very short time, therefore, Renoir and Monet worked in a special writing technique – with wide, quick strokes, only indicating the figures of people and outlining the surroundings, but not wasting time on writing details. This new style, so to speak, unsaid painting was not liked by the public, and the seemingly careless artistic manner of the young impressionists was criticized.
But it was precisely in the transmission of fleeting sensations from the state of nature that the essence of the new movement in painting was. Impressionism originated in the open air. The constant changes in lighting were very important for those who, in the future, at first will be ironically and abusively called impressionists. This unusual desire to convey impressions of an elusive, changing reality drew a clear distinction between their work and "dead" academic painting.
Classical academic painting existed only in the context of a narrow spectrum of mythological, religious and historical subjects, without recognizing the images of the modern era. It was the art of idealization, introducing an artificial internal order and a clear structure into everything. Objects and things in still lifes, landscapes and portraits were portrayed as idealized, and not as they are actually seen by the human eye. The Impressionists’ dream was to return painting to real life. Young Renoir, after Monet began to write in the open air, since only such a method allowed to achieve the transmission of natural sunlight, giving the picture that spontaneity that is irreversibly lost when working in the workshop from memory. It was light that became the main “protagonist” of their paintings. However, unlike Monet, Auguste Renoir was more interested in the human figure placed in this magical light-air environment than nature itself.
In another work, The New Bridge (1872, National Gallery of Art, Washington), Renoir appears to us as a virtuoso master of the Vedut (urban landscape), ready to carefully write out architectural details and painstakingly build a perspective. There is already a smoother writing style, and the construction of volumes is created using lines, an auxiliary drawing. Nevertheless, the cityscape with its wide bridge and a strolling public is visible as if through a haze, all the outlines of the architectural elements and figures of the characters are devoid of clear contours, all the lines are very soft. The artist captured a city bathed in sunshine and air permeated with light.
The portrait of his friend and colleague Monet Reads (1872, Marmotin Museum, Paris) was made by Renoir in dark colors, making it almost monochrome. Nevertheless, the image of the artist’s friend turned out to be very lively, he showed Monet exactly the way he himself saw him every day: in a hat, with a fresh newspaper and a smoking pipe in his mouth.
Renoir studies the effects of lighting, plays out the highlighted and shaded areas of Monet’s face and the newspapers in his hands. Masterfully diluting the overall dark color of the canvas with warm shades on the hands, the lyceum in the back of the chair, as well as the white color of the newspaper. So the artist achieves a harmonious composition, built in color. The fabric of the costume is almost mixed with a dark background, as if absorbed by the surrounding twilight. It was this effect that the painter sought to convey the atmosphere of late reading, in low light.
The picture of 1872 “Portrait of Claude Monet’s wife on the couch” (private collection, Lisbon) became unusually vivid and impressive. Young Camilla Monet (nee Donsier) is sitting on the couch in a beautiful blue dress, she poses nakedly for the artist, as if allowing herself to draw favorably. Here, Renoir does not try to carefully describe the surroundings, he only conveys a sense of calm and freedom of the young housewife, who found time for rest in the afternoon.
As a true connoisseur of female beauty, the artist openly admires the youth and freshness of the heroine of the canvas. As if in a sketch, Renoir only outlines sofa armrests, one of which is resting on Camille, and a tea table with a cup set on the edge. It is due to the lack of a geometric pattern on the sofa and clear lines that delimit its design, the sofa seems unusually soft. The contours of objects are blurred, which gives the atmosphere of the room an effect of extraordinary lightness and airiness, as if Renoir shows a kind of intangible environment of sunlight that unites all the objects in the room. And only Camilla’s black hair, eyebrows and eyes stand out against the general light background, attracting the viewer’s eye.
In the early 70s, Renoir spent a lot of time near Paris, in Argenteuil, where Monet lived during this period, friends often worked together, one of their favorite subjects was sailing boats on the Seine. This work is dedicated to the work “Regatta near Argenteuil” (1874, National Gallery of Art, Washington). In the painting, the artist again used the outline style of writing with the help of quick, wide strokes. Only such a style allowed us to capture the landscape, to capture the momentary state of variable nature.
The sky in the picture is painted unusually dynamic, with torn pink clouds, as if absorbing all the sunlight. It seems as if it is capsizing into the Seine, reflecting the pattern of clouds and the white sails of boats, which in turn absorb the reflexes of heavenly illumination and turn pinkish. Renoir paints a picture not with lines, but with color spots.
The composition of the painting “Path in the Tall Grass” (1874, Museums d’Orsay, Paris) is very similar to the landscape “Poppy Field at Argenteuil” (1873, Museum d’Orsay, Paris) by Claude Monet. Auguste Renoir depicts people walking along a path drowning in high field grass. Like Monet, to create a sense of movement, the artist repeats the figures of people at the top of the hill and at its base.
Theater and Nude
Like many artists, Renoir was attracted to the theater. Here you can find a variety of scenes for paintings, watch thousands of people with their characters and fates, notice curious things and unusual scenes. The painter is interested in both the audience, located in the auditorium, and the actors, whose vibrant life passes on the other side of the ramp.
One of Renoir’s works on the theater scene – The Lodge (1874, Gallery of the Curto Institute, London) was presented by the artist at the first impressionist exhibition, sensational and failed, which was organized in the same 84th year in the studio of the photographer Nadar. The picture was a double portrait of a lady and a gentleman who were sitting in a box, waiting for the start of the performance. A woman directly and calmly looks at the viewer, her companion, on the contrary, sits leaning back and looks for someone through the binoculars among the crowd. The lady is a little sad, and the gentleman, it seems, completely forgot about her presence.The figure of the heroine is shown closer to the foreground of the picture, her face is brightly lit and as if seeking dialogue with the viewer, the hero is removed from both the viewer and his companion in the twilight of the box. The artist was able to surprisingly simply put semantic accents in the composition using the play of light and shadow.
The exposition of the same impressionist exhibition was attended by two more works by the artist: “Dancer” (1874, National Gallery of Art, Washington) and “Parisian” (1874, National Wells Museum, Cardiff).
The painting "Dancer" shows us a young ballerina in an air-blue dress. She stands in the free 4th position, reminding us a bit of the work of Edgar Degas, who created many paintings on the favorite theme of the theater. However, all Degas heroines are captured in a dance or bow, they never posed for him. Degas painted them – as the paparazzi are shooting now – captured at an unexpected moment in a seemingly random perspective, without focusing on psychology.
Auguste Renoir worked differently. On his canvas, the dancer is depicted not in dance and not in a stage image, but as if in the role of herself. An important role in the portrait is played by a little sad eyes and the attractiveness of a young girl, her trepidation and tenderness. The picture is distinguished by pastel tones and soft contours – in contrast to the sharply defined works of Degas, who always used the line as the main expressive tool.
When it comes to the next painting by the master – “Parisian”, many art historians cite the lines of Alexander Blok, which he wrote more than thirty years after the creation of the canvas:
“And every evening, at the appointed hour,
(Or is it just me dreaming?)
A girl’s camp, captured by silks,
In a foggy window moves.
And slowly, passing between the drunk,
Always without satellites, alone,
Breathing in perfumes and mists
She sits by the window… "
The upper body of the young woman is outlined quite clearly, while the light skirt of her dress seems to be sewn from airy fabric. So the artist achieves the favorite effect of the existence of the figure in a special light-air environment, thanks to which the heroine seems to come out of the haze. The delightful appeal of the image is achieved by the fact that this elusive misty Mademoiselle is completely open for dialogue with the viewer.
The following year, Renoir creates his famous painting “Naked in the Sunlight” (1875, Musee d’Orsay, Paris). The artist’s innovative idea was to write nudity in nature, showing how sun glare and reflexes from the leaves of a tree play on her delicate skin. The idea was not bad and, moreover, truly impressionistic. However, the result caused a sharp rejection by both critics and the public. According to the canons of traditional painting, a naked female body had to be written ideally, having come up with a spectacular "staged" pose of the model, and her skin should be perfectly smooth and exclusively in warm shades. Renoir, instead of smooth skin, showed glare and reflexes, which reviewers called cadaveric spots on the decaying body.
In 1876, the painter creates another canvas on this subject. In the painting “Nude” (the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), Renoir showed himself as a true connoisseur of female beauty. He literally admires his model, as if stroking her body with a brush. This time, he paints her young thin skin perfectly smoothly and exclusively with shades of pink. Compositionally, the work resembles the painting “The Bather” by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1807). The artist will later return to Ingres (who, incidentally, was an example for Edgar Degas) during the rethinking of his own creative path.
The master regularly participated in subsequent exhibitions of the Impressionists. At the third of them, in 1877, among other works, he presented The Ball at the Moulin de la Galette and Swing.
The swing motive was unusual for 18th-century French painting; in fact, it was absent. It is not known what exactly prompted Renoir to this plot, but there is evidence that he was familiar with the painting of the same name by Fragonard, who wrote it as a “gallant scene”, which has hidden meaning, enclosed in attractive prospects that open to the cavalier sitting on the ground under the skirts swaying in the wind, swinging in the wind young ladies. “Swings” (Museum d’Orsay, Paris) of Renoir, written in 1876, are essentially the same “gallant scene”, borrowed from the Rococo era, but written on a modern plot and without a frivolous connotation.
On the canvas we see a young man standing with his back to the viewer (which is unacceptable in traditional art in itself), he slightly shakes a pensive girl who stands on a wooden swing. Nearby are a man and a little girl, affectionately and trustingly looking at a lady. By the way, children’s images occupy a separate page in the entire work of the artist, but more on that later.
The overall painting “Ball at the Moulin le la Galette” (1876, Museum l’Orsay, Paris) was painted on the Montmartre hill in Paris, on which at that time there were still three preserved wooden mills. In one of them was located the restaurant "Moulin de la Galette", famous for delicious cutlets (moulin – mill, galette – cutlet). The restaurant regularly held dances, which gathered the most diverse Parisian audience, among which were young artists.
Such places were ideal for Renoir, who loves to write juicy, bright glare of light, dancing on ladies’ dresses and suits of their gentlemen. The artist loved to transfer to the canvas scenes of such festivals of life and carefree youth, characterized by an unusually joyful and bright atmosphere. His canvases depicting the local audience are a kind of document of the era: they forever captured this corner of Paris, where the middle class of that time was entertained. The artist devoted a large canvas to such an everyday plot that was extremely unusual for that time.
For a long time, the artist’s paintings were not for sale, as the public refused to recognize impressionism as art. Nevertheless, the exhibitions made it possible to make useful contacts. Through them, Renoir received several good orders for portraits that helped the painter somehow make ends meet. Pleasant and profitable for the artist was a meeting with the Charpentier spouses. The fact is that Madame Charpentier had her own salon in Paris, in which an interesting audience gathered: writers, artists, poets and artists. It was here that Renoir met the actress Jeanne Samari, to whom he dedicated three portraits.
Amazingly written, lively and lyrical “Portrait of Jeanne Samari” (1877, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow) demonstrates the artist’s unconventional approach to building the composition. The young actress leans on her chin with her hand, as if in a confidential conversation, her open direct look turned directly into the eyes of the observer, as well as the maximum approximation of the figure to the edge, creates the effect of close contact of the heroine and the viewer. Thanks to this pose, the portrait has an inexpressible charm and causes a lot of positive emotions.
A year later, the artist creates another canvas with the same name (1878, the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). In it, Renoir again writes to Jeanne of Samaria, but now in full growth. The woman is dressed in a stunning snow-white dress with a train, extremely fitting her slim figure. But even here, in a ceremonial portrait, the heroine enters into a dialogue with the viewer – her pose is again directed forward, she stands bending slightly, sacrificing a proud posture and straight shoulders, for the sake of this contact. Her direct open gaze does not let go of the observer, but her slightly parted lips attract him.
In the same year, Renoir wrote "Portrait of Madame Charpentier with Children" (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). The picture was made in the standard "salon" manner, clearly to please the hostess herself. Two cute children’s figures, depicted in direct poses, perfectly convey the unique children’s plastic, complemented by angelic attributes – swelling of the arms and legs, delicate curls of hair, give the canvas a special charm. The general composition of the work is again built using color: the decor is depicted in red-brown shades, and the figure of Madame Charpentier stands out against her background. The hostess is dressed in a black dress with a white contrasting inset on her chest, a white petticoat peeks out from under the hem, and at her feet is a huge St. Bernard in black and white. And in this black and white frame depicts children in pale blue short dresses.
Renoir during his lifetime was considered an outstanding master of portraiture. He managed to catch and convey the fleeting mood of the heroes of the canvas. A remarkable example of his work in this genre is “The Girl with a Fan” (1881, State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg). The tender pensive face of a young girl with dark locks of hair falling on her forehead is written out carefully and smoothly, and the details of the toilet, fans, hands and background are more soft, with blurry contours. The background of the picture, left without elaboration, serves only to frame the beautiful appearance of the girl, without distracting the viewer’s attention from shiny dark eyes, delicate skin and parted lips. The canvas has a favorite effect of contrasts, alternating black and white spots, which the master used so often: white sections of the fan – dark fabric of the dress, white collar – dark hair of the model.This chess order perfectly focuses the attention of the viewer on the delicate complexion of the model.
Contrary to the opinion of his impressionist friends, Renoir decided to participate in the annual Salon. It was the only way for him to gain fame and useful contacts. Thanks to the efforts of Madame Charpentier, the Salon of 1879 accepted two paintings by the artist – “Portrait of Samari” and “Portrait of Madame Charpentier with Children”. So Renoir finally declared himself. The audience favorably met the painter, and he began to regularly receive new orders. From then until 1882, the artist did not participate in the exhibitions of the Impressionists. Renoir’s financial situation improved so much that in 1881 he was able to afford a long trip to Algeria, Venice, Rome and Pompeii.
In the same fertile period, Renoir meets Alina Sherigo, who was a living embodiment of the ideal of the female beauty of the painter. Alina began to appear in many paintings of the painter, starting with “Breakfast of the rowers” (1881, Phillips Collection, National Gallery, Washington). Some time later, she even became his wife.
Light composition of the canvas “Rowing Breakfast” was painted by Renoir in natural light. The plot of the picture is another holiday of life so beloved by the artist, with courtship of gentlemen, carefree youth, smiles of ladies and the intricacies of relationships. The work participated in the seventh exhibition of the Impressionists in 1882, along with several Venetian landscapes created by the artist during his trip to Italy. And just a year later, in 1883, the first personal exhibition of Renoir took place.
Own style recognition and frustration
The fame of the artist in the 1880s has already gone beyond France. The respected and respectable Auguste Renoir began to travel often. In 1885, their first child, the son of Pierre, was born to the master and Alina. Soon the family moved to Alina’s homeland in Champagne. In 1886, Renoir creates a portrait of his wife and his young son.
The canvas "Motherhood" (Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida) is already celebrating other joys. The carefree amusements of the Parisian public receded into the background, and all the artist’s attention turned to the delights of family life and the happiness of motherhood. The picture is sentimental: a fat young Alina breastfeeding a chubby baby against a rural idyll. The proportions of the woman sitting on the chair look a little shortened due to the fact that the artist painted her while standing, and his point of view was higher than the model.
Over time, Auguste Renoir, a formerly recognized master of impressionism, became disillusioned with the manner of writing he developed. His dissatisfaction with the work brought the master even to the destruction of some created canvases. If from the very beginning of his creative career the painter sought inspiration and answers to the questions that tormented him in the paintings of Eugene Delacroix, Jean Honore Fragonard and Francois Boucher, which contributed to the formation of his creative personality, now he turned to the work of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres – a brilliant academician and neoclassicist, master line, writing seductive nude beauties and unusually gentle female portraits. Also, Renoir began to use the experience of Renaissance masters, whose works conquered him in Italy.
Despite the change of style, the artist remained faithful to the world of joy, beauty and bright happiness. He never created sad, philosophical, or edifying works. Paired works “Dance in the Village (1882, Museum d’Orsay, Paris),“ Dance in Bougival ”(1883, Museum of Art, Boston), as well as“ Dance in the City ”(1883, Museum d’Orsay, Paris ) became a logical continuation of the topics raised by the painter in the works of previous years. All three paintings show us dancing couples reveling in movement, music and as if serving as a continuation of the theme of cloudless happiness and youth of the canvas “Ball at the Moulin de la Galette”.
The painting “Dance in the Village” brings back memories of the early painting “Portrait of Alfred Sisley with His Wife”. In the new work we can see the same tenderness, care and emphasized courtesy of the gentleman hugging his lady. The pose of the dancing couple captivates with direct plasticity and clearly demonstrates the nature of their relationship: the man is tenderly in love with his partner, he is ready to do her best in every possible way, she bathes in his love and care, like in music, absorbed in dance and subordinating his movements to the leading force of the partner.
"Dance in Bougival" demonstrates the departure from the impressionistic style of writing. She is still visible in the foliage of the trees and the background of the picture, but the girl’s dress and her gentleman’s costume are painted rather tightly and smoothly. The atmosphere of the work is close to the previous one, the same immediacy reigns in it, but with a touch of hidden feelings – the girl slightly bashfully looks away from her partner, who is trying to win her attention by all means.
The partners of the film “Dance in the City” are much more restrained in their movements and expression of feelings. Exquisite costumes speak of their high social status. The girl keeps herself very straight, not leaning on the shoulder of her partner with a popular gullibility. Her posture is strict and meets all standards of etiquette. The heroine’s face is calm, it does not express the happiness and joy with which the heroine of “Dance in the Village” shines. The face of a young man is completely hidden from us.
The painting "Umbrellas" (1881 -, National Gallery, London) became one of Renoir’s most famous works. It was started during the heyday of his passion for impressionism, and ended five years later, after the artist became acquainted with the work of Renaissance masters and rethought his own path in art. Female figures on the left side of the canvas are written more gently, while on the right side – a clear contour line appears. The picture densely filled with characters seems to lack compositional construction, but this is only at first glance. Among the randomly flooded figures of passers-by, the diagonal construction of the canvas can be distinguished: the first diagonal starts from the girl’s head in the right corner of the canvas, then is emphasized by the cane of the tilted umbrella and finally ends with the heads of the girl and the man standing behind her on the left.The line of the cane of the umbrella in the hands of the woman accompanying the girls indicates the second diagonal.
"Umbrellas" became the last big picture of the artist, dedicated to the life of his modern city. The Renaissance art influenced the further selection of themes, which left its mark on the pictorial manner of Renoir. The master until the end of his life remained a singer and connoisseur of female beauty, mouth-watering forms, delicate skin and sparkling eyes. The canvas "The Big Bathers" (1887, Art Museum, Philadelphia) is a clear evidence of the influence of the great masters of the past. The presence of a contour drawing, classic draperies, delicately painted naked bodies of girls with delicate skin and the layout of their figures in space represent a clear pyramidal composition in the shape of a triangle.
True, in the painting “After Bathing” (1888, a private collection), the smoothly painted naked body of a seated girl still has a hint of the artist’s former style. The shadows in the canvas remain impressionistic, colored, and its background is made with wide strokes. And the very picture of the body of the heroine is more soft than in the previous work.
The artist still traveled a lot. In 1894, a second child appeared in the Renoir family – the son of Jean. And in 1897 a small incident happened. It did not portend in itself any problems. The artist unsuccessfully fell off his bicycle and broke his right arm. During recovery, the master learned to write with his left hand. But even after a complete healing of the fracture, Renoir did not leave constant severe pain. So began severe arthritis, which did not leave the artist for the next twenty years of his life, gradually fettering movements and facial expressions, twisting his fingers, and then completely causing paralysis. Alina did everything possible to save her beloved spouse, however, after each short-term improvement in his condition, relapses invariably occurred. Friends often came to visit the painter,Renoir himself did not stop working until the last day of his life. In 1901, his third son Claude was born, who became the most beloved model of an aging artist.
Renoir paintings were exhibited at many exhibitions in Paris, New York and London. They brought him well-deserved fame. And in 1900, the artist became a holder of the Legion of Honor, and ten years later – an officer of the order.
In 1909, the painter creates two more paired works: “Dancer with Castanets” and “Dancer with Tambourine” (both – National Gallery, London), in which a clear influence of Renaissance art is revealed. Plastic bodies, calmly contemplative expression, drapery and abstract background bring them closer in style to the frescoes of the great masters of the past. The works are very decorative, the figures of the dancers as if descended from an old frieze.
The work "Gabriel with the Rose" (1911, Musee d’Orsay, Paris) is very different from the "classical" portraits of the master. The canvas palette darkened, the model does not dazzle with a sparkle of eyes and a radiant smile. But clearly more plastic study of volumes is evident. But it’s all early, it is obvious that the aging artist admires the smoothness and tenderness of the skin of his heroine (Gabrielle was a relative of his wife and helped her with raising children).
With the outbreak of World War I, the elder sons of the Renoirs went to the front, both of them returned, but wounded. Alina tried her best to help her children, but, not having endured the emotions, she died. Renoir continued to write in a wheelchair, overcoming severe pain in his entire body, until his death on December 2, 1919.
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