Pierre Auguste Renoir — Impressionism Master

5 min readMar 26, 2020

Pierre-Auguste Renoir is one of the most highly regarded artists of all time. While Renoir masterpieces are easily identifiable by their extraordinary use of bright colors, bold lines, and light-hearted subjects, his unique style stood apart from the traditional form of art!

Even better, Renoir collaborated with a group of like-minded artists including Monet, Pissarro, Degas, and Cezzane to form the Impressionist movement. Considered to be the master of the impressionist style, Renoir master-crafted artworks that depicted real-life subjects and scenarios naturally!

He combined brash colors with his technique of broken brush strokes to portray pleasant, light themes. What’s more; he was master at facial expressions and enjoyed painting figures, particularly of women.

Renoir’s transition from porcelain painter to Impressionism Master

Luncheon Of The Boating Party by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Reproduction of Luncheon Of The Boating Party by Pierre Auguste Renoir

In his early career, Renoir worked as an apprentice to a French porcelain painter, whereby he primarily painted floral designs to adorn plates and dish-ware. It is believed that Renoir used only five colors in his palette and learned how to combine different colors well during his time as a porcelain painter.

He displayed an exemplary talent for the work and found himself contributing for the galleries of the Louvre as a copyist. After spending a great deal of time and studying the great masterworks at the gallery, Renoir started sketching on the bank of Seine River alongside his friend and fellow impressionist Claude Monet.

It was during these art-jamming sessions that the two young artists established their renowned technique and carried out a trial with the bright colors that went on to become the heart of Impressionism.

The Birth of Avant-Garde Impressionism Art

Irene Cahen D Anvers Aka Little Irene
by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Reproduction of Irene Cahen D Anvers Aka Little Irene by Pierre Auguste Renoir

While Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet worked alongside one another, they not only painted the same scenes but also laid the foundation stone for the Impressionism art.

It was also during this time when the two painters practiced portraying light and water in the open air that they discovered that the color of shadows wasn’t either black or brown, but actually the reflected color of the things surrounding them.

That’s not all; the pioneers of the Impressionism art depicting scenes from virtually identical vantage points. While both artists were concerned with portraying the transitory effects of light shimmering on rippling water, Renoir’s focused more on capturing the lushly sensual rendering to depicting the scene’s inhabitants.

Style and Technique of Renoir Artworks

Reproduction of Dance At The Moulin De La Galette by Pierre Auguste Renoir

The Impressionism Master’s early works used oil on canvas to paint real-life scenarios while his themes were always nonchalant and pleasant. In fact, the artist was quoted:

“Why shouldn’t art be pretty, when there is a plethora of unpleasant things in the world?”

A master of depicting accurate facial expressions, Renoir was fascinated to paint beautiful portraits of his associates, including fellow artists and writers. Employing the revolutionary technique of using broken brush strokes, he leveraged bright colors to portray the light and movement of the subject.

He was a great admirer of the female form and most of Renoir artworks feature figures of women. He was quoted saying,

“I haven’t really finished a nude until I think I can pinch it”.

Lastly, not to mention that that Renoir also succeeded in accommodating multiple figures in one frame, while his compositions were more complex than others and required several rounds of revisions.

Revoir painted some of the most celebrated images of the early modernist canon

Reproduction of Near The Lake by Pierre Auguste Renoir

While the classical painter was responsible for some of the best artworks of his time, it was his iconic creation ‘Bal du moulin de la Galette’ (1876) that won him worldwide acclamation. The painting showcased the artist’s amazing ability to capture shimmering light and paint vibrant colors in addition to using loose brushwork brilliantly to evoke the exhilarating open-air festivities of a Sunday afternoon in Montmartre. What’s more; the work measures about four by six feet, which allows for an extensive sense of movement in addition to a wealth of detail, boasting of warm vignettes within the swarming scene.

His style developed after visiting Italy in 1881

La Grenouillere
 by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Reproduction of La Grenouillere by Pierre Auguste Renoir

After closely examining the artworks of the Renaissance masters like Raphael and Michelangelo, Renoir grew attracted to the intricate details of classicism. As a matter of fact, the painter’s artwork from this era, are often characterized by a more methodical technique that emphasized on the sculptural qualities of his subjects. While this era in Renoir’s life was termed as “Ingresque” period, some of his famous classical figures include Reclining Nude (1883) and Les Grandes Baigneuses (1884–1887), and both of them share glistening impressionistic landscapes in the foreground.

And the Evolution Continued till the end of the decade

Le Pont Neuf Paris
 by Pierre Auguste Renoir
Reproduction of Le Pont Neuf Paris by Pierre Auguste Renoir

After making himself a mark at Linear Classism, Renoir came back to softened outlines and thinly brushed color from 1880’s to 1890’s. This time he drew inspiration from Rubens, Fragonard, and Titian, while focusing primarily on peaceful domestic scenes characterized by pastoral nudes. In fact, the most popular Renoir artworks from this period, known as Two Young Girls at the Piano (1892), went on to be commissioned in the Luxembourg Museum by the French government.




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