French impressionist painter, noted for his radiant, intimate paintings, particularly of the
female nude. Recognized by critics as one of the greatest and most independent painters of his
period, Renoir is noted for the harmony of his lines, the brilliance of his color, and the
intimate charm of his wide variety of subjects. Unlike other impressionists he was as much
interested in painting the single human figure or family group portraits as he was in landscapes;
unlike them, too, he did not subordinate composition and plasticity of form to attempts at
rendering the effect of light.
Renoir was born in Limoges on February 25, 1841. As a child he worked in a porcelain factory in
Paris, painting designs on china; at 17 he copied paintings on fans, lampshades, and blinds.
He studied painting formally in 1862-63 at the academy of the Swiss painter Charles Gabriel
Gleyre in Paris. Renoir's early work was influenced by two French artists, Claude Monet in his
treatment of light and the romantic painter Eugène Delacroix in his treatment of color.
Renoir first exhibited his paintings in Paris in 1864, but he did not gain recognition until
1874, at the first exhibition of painters of the new impressionist school.
One of the most famous of all impressionist works is Renoir's Le Bal au Moulin de la Galette,
an open-air scene of a café, in which his mastery in figure painting and in representing light is evident.
Renoir fully established his reputation with a solo exhibition held at the Durand-Ruel Gallery
in Paris in 1883. In 1887 he completed a series of studies of a group of nude female figures
known as the Bathers. These reveal his extraordinary ability to
depict the lustrous, pearly color and texture of skin and to impart lyrical feeling and
plasticity to a subject; they are unsurpassed in the history of modern painting in their
representation of feminine grace. Many of his later paintings also treat the same theme in an
increasingly bold rhythmic style. During the last 20 years of his life Renoir was crippled by
arthritis; unable to move his hands freely, he continued to paint, however, by using a brush
strapped to his arm. Renoir died at Cagnes, a village in the south of France, on December 3,