Renoir, Auguste



Impressionism, the partakers of the expositions:

Sketches of

Auguste Renoir

(1841 -1919)


Auguste Renoir, an impressionist portraitist:
Auguste Renoir is one of the most famous Impressionists. Impressionism is mostly associated with landscapes painted ‘en-plein-air‘ and Renoir did so regularly. But most of all was he a portraitist. In several paintings the model dissolves with the background and is caught in a random moment, see for example Madame Chocquet reading↓. In most portraits of Renoir the model comes out distinctly from the background. In his early portraits he still used the traditional tones of black, brown and grey. In his later portraits the backgrounds are more colourful. In these portraits Renoir used small, vivid brushstrokes which give the portrait a vibrant glow. And look at the palet of colours he uses for the hair of the models; what a master ! A good example is the portrait of Jeanne Samary↓ which he exhibited at the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877.

Auguste Renoir joined in (only) 4 of the 8 impressionist expositions:
In the beginning Renoir was an active member of the impressionist art movement. 1873/12/27 Renoir was co-founder of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc and he would exhibit at the first 3 ‘impressionist’ expositions and partly be active in the organisation.
In 1874 Renoir exhibited probably 6 works at the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition, including 4 portraits (see pictures 1874).
In 1876 Renoir exhibited 18+1hc=19 works at the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition, all portraits / figure paintings (see pictures 1876).
In 1877 Renoir exhibited 21 works at the 3rd ‘impressionist’  exposition, including 12 portraits / figure paintings (see pictures 1877).
But 1878 onwards Renoir chose to leave the ‘impressionist’ expositions behind and to admit to the Paris Salon again. In March 1881 he wrote to Durand-Ruel: “There are in Paris scarcely fifteen art-lovers capable of liking a painting without Salon approval. There are 80.000 who will not buy an inch of canvas if it is not in the Salon… My submitting to the Salon is entirely a business matter.” (R2,p308).In March 1881 he writes to Durand-Ruel: “There are in Paris scarcely fifteen art-lovers capable of liking a painting without Salon approval. There are 80.000 who will not buy an inch of canvas if it is not in the Salon… My submitting to the Salon is entirely a business matter.” (R2,p308).
In 1882 Renoir didn’t want to join the 7th ‘impressionist’ exposition, but he couldn’t prevent Durand-Ruel from exhibiting 25+4hc=29 of his works (including 13 landscapes and 5 still lives; see pictures 1882). Renoir was opposed to exhibit with Pissarro, Gauguin and Guillaumin, who had Socialist sympathies. (R2,p57)
In total Auguste Renoir showed 75 art-works of which 74 were oil paintings, the 5th largest amount. He probably showed just 1 pastel.
See link for an account of the exhibited paintings (references, translations, info, discussion, locations on Google-maps).

Auguste Renoir had an ambivalent relationship with the Paris Salon
Renoir at first followed a more traditional path as a painter. He copied old masters in the Louvre (1860-64), attended the Atelier Gleyre (1861/11/8 till 1864/Summer) and admited the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (1862/04/01) and took part in several exams and contests. In 1864 he made his debut at the Paris Salon, after he was first rejected in 1863. In his admissions he used mythological themes (1863 + 1867) and a lot of blacks, browns and greys. In the oriental themes the influence of Delacroix is apparent (1870 +1872). He was rejected several times(1863, 66, 67, 72,73). With the paintings that were accepted (in 1864, 65, 68, 69, 70) he didn’t have much succes. After joining the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1874, 76 and 77 he admitted again to the Salon in 1878. (Some sources say he already did so in 1875 + 1877.) He would be accepted the next five years and again for the last time in 1890. (Note: since 1880 the Salon was organised by the Société des Artistes Français = SdAF.)
In 1877 Renoir criticised the Ecole des Beaux Arts which is ‘fully based on the past’ and ‘sends painters to Rome to copy Raphael’; he pleaded for ‘modern movements’,  ‘a new cultural consciousness’ and ‘originality’ (R30,p136). But, autumn 1881 Renoir went to Italy and copied old masters, including Raphael. See the pictures Renoir submitted to the Paris Salon; and an account (references, translations, info, discussion, locations on Google-maps) of this.

1883, Auguste Renoir distances from Impressionism:
Autumn 1882 Renoir wrote: ‘Don’t talk me anymore about portraits in sunlight. A nice dark background, that’s the right thing.’ (R31,no.66). In another letter he wrote that around 1883 he concluded that Impressionism was a dead-end road (R32,p55). Inspired by Ingres he would lay more emphasize on line and composition. Instead of capturing the momentary light effects en-plein-air he tries to render timelessness in the studio (R31,p242). The portraits become monumentally, his brushstroke more smooth and the faces and bodies more porcelain-like, see for example the portrait of Lucie Berard↓ (R30,no.599). He tried to capture ’the smallest details’ (R193,p25)
But when we look closely, he didn’t paint much pictures in this way. Far more pictures in this period are painted with clearly visibel paralellel brushstrokes, which was also influenced by Cézanne, as in the picture at Roche Guyon↓ (R31,no.77). And he still painted his wife blending with the background of the garden and with a vivid brushstroke in 1884↓, as he did in a similar style in other pictures.
And shortly before, at the beginning of his Italian trip, he painted his most impressionistic city-view in Venice (7IE-1882-147↓).

In later years he still painted the leaves-filtered-sunlight, like in the apple seller (ca.1890)↓. And his landscapes stay very colourful, like the footbridge at Essoyes (ca.1898-1901). In that sense Renoir stayed an impressionist painter. In a late painting, the Chapel in Cagnes (1905), he used thinned paint and laid more emphasize on line↓.
How must we interpret Renoir’s distancing from Impressionism? We know his art-collectors and most important the art-dealer Durand-Ruel (see below) disliked his new linear style (R31,p242). In foreign exhibitions he would still be represented as an impressionist painter (R30,p315). He still would dwell among impressionist circles (see below) and as we saw, he continued painting with bright vibrant colours.


Auguste Renoir at other exhibitions:
At the Salon d’Automne Renoir was called ‘Président Honneur’ and ‘sociétaire’ (1905-07); in 1904 there was a retrospective of his works and in 1905+1906 he did partake and was part of the commitee (R239).
(Note: more about Renoir exhibiting at other exhibitions will follow in the future.)


Characteristics of Auguste Renoir as a painter:
Renoir is above all a portraitist (see also above). His most impressionist portraits are anonymous. Especially in commissioned portraits the pose often is more formal, being painted for ‘eternity’. The background is often darker, so the model comes out distinctly. For the black cloths Renoir often used dark purples, reds, blues and greens. In his early years his portraits are more traditional. In those pictures Renoir uses a lot of blacks, browns and greys and the brushstroke (in the face) is more smooth. The majority of Renoir’s portraits are women. More than once he paints them with a dreamy gaze and makes them more beautiful and elegant than they really were (R15,p204).
Although he already painted en-plein-air in the forest of Fountainebleau, Renoir still used a lot of dark greens and browns and his brush stroke is quite smooth. In 1869 with Monet in Grenouillère Renoir started to loosen his brushstroke and to brighten his colours.
In the highlights of his impressionistic paintings the leaves-filtered-sunlight is very typical (see above 3IE-1877-186; and also 2IE-1876-212 and 3IE-1877-185). In those pictures Renoir tried to render the momentary influence of the sunlight on the colours of the objects; typical impressionistic. But in the landscapes he made, there is not often an indication of time-of-day, season or weather-conditions. Mostly his indications of place are more approximate. In this sense Renoir is not a typical impressionist landscapist (see also account).
In the 1870’s Renoir often painted the leasures of comtemporary urban live: groups of young bright shiny people in restaurants, loges, dancing-places, boating, etc. In that sense he is a painter of ‘la-joy-de-vivre’ (see above 3IE-1877-182; 7IE-1882-140; but also 1IE-1874-142; 7IE-1882-151). Renoir scarcely painted workers and if he does it’s more idyllic.
Renoir sometimes painted (colourful) still lives (see 7IE-1882-144, 145, 156, 158, 159). 1880 onwards nudes become an important theme is his paintings. By the mid-1890s Renoir started using many reds and again blacks in his pictures (R30,p8; R31,p250), see his painting of Vollard↓.
Renoir never was a painter with big theories. He said: ’the purpose of a painting is to decorate a wall’ (R30,p8). Still in 1884 he attempted to found the ‘Société des Irrégularistes’. In the pamphlet he wrote, that all art-work has to based on the principal of irregularity, because in nature nothing is the same. ‘The eyes in a beautiful face are never alike.’ (R30,p137;R193,p26) In remarks he made to Vollard he said ’the great task has been to paint as simple as possible’ and also ‘we were trying to paint in joyous tones and carefully eliminate all ‘literature’ from our pictures’ (R2,p58+54)


Durand-Ruel gave Auguste Renoir prosperity and fame:
Renoir came from a working class family. His father was a tailor and his mother a dressmaker. He himself started at the age of thirteen to work as a decorative painter and continued to do so in the 1860s. In 1864 Renoir was first accepted at the Paris Salon, this increased his expectations to make a living as a painter (R31,p19). Outside the Salon there were not many exhibition possibilities. In the 1860’s his main source of income were commissions for portraits (R30). Still Renoir often was short of money and was hardly able to buy food or painting materials.
In 1872 the art-dealer Durand-Ruel started to buy some pictures of Renoir and 1873 onwards some art-collectors started to buy his work and give him commissions. The ‘impressionist’ expositions he joined weren’t a financial succes, neither were the auctions in Hôtel Drouot (1875 + 1877). In March 1881 in a letter to Durand-Ruel Renoir sighed ‘There are in Paris scarcely fifteen art-lovers capable of liking a painting without Salon approval. There are 80.000 who will not buy an inch of canvas if it is not in the Salon… My submitting to the Salon (since 1878 again) is entirely a business matter.’ (R2,p308)
In 1879 Renoir had success at the Paris Salon (Mme. Charpentier and her children↓) and he also exhibited at La Vie Moderne. 1881 was a turning point when Durand-Ruel started to buy many of Renoir’s work; in 1882 alone he spend almost 30.000 francs (R31,p28). 1883 onwards the possibilities for exhibiting his works were increasing. Most important at Durand-Ruel (1883+), but also Georges Petit (1886+), Les XX in Brussels (1886+). In 1886 an important foreign exhibition was held in New York organised (by Durand-Ruel). Many foreign exhibitions would follow. Conclusion: Renoir didn’t need the ‘impressionist’ expositions and even the Paris Salon anymore.
In 1892 the state bought ‘Jeunes filles au piano’↑ for 4000 francs, which denoted an official recognition (R31,no.91). In 1894 six of his works from the Caillebotte bequest are accepted in Musée Luxembourg (now in Musée d’Orsay) (R31,p23). In 1900 Renoir received the order of ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur‘, in 1911 he was appointed ‘Officier’ and in 1919 ‘Commandeur’. This financial prosperity is translated in his frequent travels (1881-1898) and in buying a house in Essoyes in 1895 and the estate ‘Les Colettes’ in Cagnes in 1907 (R31). Still he never cared for luxury and was known as a modest man (R30).


Auguste Renoir always was active within the impressionist circles:
Renoir regularly met other impressionists in Café Guerbois, Restaurant Fournaise, Café Nouvelles-Athènes, Café Riche, the soirees at the Charpentiers and Morisot’s house (see meeting places). Renoir regularly spent time and painted together with other impressionists: at Gleyre, in Fontainebleau, at Grénouillère, Argenteuil with Monet, Sisley, Cordey, Cézanne, Caillebotte, Morisot, Zandomeneghi and related painters like Bazille, Jules le Coeur en Lestringuez. He continues to do so after his distancing from Impressionism in 1883. In this sense Renoir always was part of the impressionist art-movement.


Auguste Renoir, a short private biography:

  • 1841/2/25 born in Limoges (in the middle of France; 400km south of Paris).
    his father Léonard died 1874/12/22; his mother, Marguerite Merlet, died 1896/11/11.
    his younger brother Edmond (born 1849/5/12) (R31) later worked as an art-critic
  • 1844/45 the family moved to Paris (R31,p294;R32,p7+92;R30,p4)
  • 1864 Renoir rented an atelier and house (?) and later on would move many times within Paris
  • 1866: met Lise Tréhot who became his favorite model and mistress untill April 1872; many sources state she married that year (R31,p295), but other sources that she did so in 1883; they will have 2 children: Pierre (born 1868) en Jeanne-Marguerite (born 1870) (iR20;iR3;iR79).
  • 1867 (winter): Bazille rented a flat at 20, Rue Visconti, in the 6th arrondisement, close to Pont-Neuf; Renoir joins him and later also Monet; they would stay here untill late 1867 (R31,p296)
  • 1868 (early): moved with Bazille to 9, Rue de la Paix, Batignolles, shortly afterwards renamed: 9, Rue de la Condamine; they stayed here untill spring 1870 (R31,p296).
  • 1868/08 his parents move to rue-de-Voisins, Louveciennes (R31,p296;R5,p49), probably no.23 opposite the château Voisins; Renoir would stay with them from July – September (R31,p296); his father would die here in 1874/12/22 (R31,p298); his mother probably would move 1881 to 10, Rue du Pont, where she would stay untill 1891 (iR146;iR145); 1896/11/11 she would die at 18, Route de Versailles, Louveciennes (R31,p307). Gale claims she lived there 1868 onwards, which probably is not correct (R53,p70+92). Note: Pissarro lived at no.22 from 1869-72.
  • 1869-70: Renoir lived at 9 Place Ernest Dreux, 78430 Louveciennes (iR148); in autumn Renoir wrote to Bazille that he stayed with his parents (R22I,p78), so probably he moved to this place afterwards.
  • 1870, spring: Renoir partly lived with Bazille at 8, Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris , but also lived closeby with Edmond Maître, 5, Rue Taranne (destroyed, now Boulevard Saint-Germain) (R31,p296);
  • 1870/04: La Gazette rendered his address as 9, Rue de la Paix – Batignolles (R259)
  • 1871, Spring: rented a room in Rue de Dragon, Paris and also visited his parents in Louveciennes (R31,p297;R53,p141)
  • 1871/autumn: rented a room at 34, Rue Notre Dame-des-Champs (6e), untill summer 1873
  • 1873 (autumn): moved to 35, Rue Saint-George, 9th arrondissement; moves in 1883 or 1884 (R31,p297;iR1)
  • 1880: met Aline Charigot (1859-1915) who first became his model, than his mistress and 1890/4/14 they married (R31,p300ff)
  • 1885/3/21: Pierre was born;
  • 1886: 38 paintings of Renoir were exhibited by Durand-Ruel in New York (R193,p31)
  • 1886: full-scale eulogy of Renoir by Teodor de Wyzewa in Revue indépendante (R193,p31)
  • 1888/12/29: first strike of rheumatism; his hands became deformed (1900), he ended up in a wheelchair (1910), suffered sever pains, but found comfort in painting.
  • 1892/05: solo exposition at Durand-Ruel with 110 works (see iR19 for catalogue with preface by Arsène Alexandre)
  • 1894/9/15: Jean was born; Gabrielle Renard, a niece of Aline, started to be their maid, house-keeper and his model;
  • 1897-1914: rented a studio in the house of his pupil Jeanne Baudot at 4, Rue du General Clerck, Louveciennes (iR3). Rented from 1907-15 in the summers closeby a house at 1, Rue August Renoir, Louveciennes (iR20).
  • 1898 onwards he would spend the winters and spring on the French Mediterranean (R31,p268)
  • 1900: exhibited 11 paintings at the Exposition Universelle (R31,p308;R193,p11)
  • 1900/08/16: awarded Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (R31,p308;R193,p11)
  • 1901/08/04: his son Claude (Coco) was born in Essoyes (R31,p308;R193,p11)
  • 1904/10: large retrospective exhibition with 35 paintings at the Salon d’Automne (R31,p309;R193,p11)
  • 1907/6/28: bought the estate ‘Les Colettes’ in Cagnes, which is now Musée Renoir
  • 1911: monograph by J. Meier-Grraefe (Munich) (R193,p31)
  • 1912: W. Pach: interview with Renoir in Scribner’s magazine (R193,p31/32)
  • 1915/6/27: Aline died in Nice (R31,p313)
  • 1918: publication of S. Vollard: Renoir. Paris. (R193,p32)
  • 1919/12/3: Renoir died in Cagnes
  • 1919/12/6 Renoir was buried in Essoyes beside Aline
  • 1921: publication of G. Rivière: Renoir et ses amis. Paris, 1921 (R193,p32;R82)


My main source is the exhibition catalogue edited by Raeburn (1985=R31), especially the chronology (p.294-314). Additionaly I used the book edited by Braun (& Dony; 1876=R30), the book by Feist (1987=R32) and Fezzi (1968=R193). Other main sources are Rewald (1973=R1), Moffett (R2), Walther (R3,p687), Denvir (R5), Pool (1987=R6), Belloli (1990=R17), the Salon database (=iR1), Wikipedia (iR3) and the additional references (=aRx, see below). All these sources often refer to the Catalogue Raisonné of Daulte (1871=R108, referred to as CR). I don’t refer to the more recent one of Dauberville (2007-14=R185). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are  the-athenaeum (iR2), Wikimedia (iR6), Wiki-art (iR7), GAP (=iR8), Google-images (=iR10), mutualart (=iR11), WGI (=iR22), art-Renoir (=iR52) and the additional references (=aRx). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.


Renoir, additional references (=aR):

  1. the Salons database of Orsay (=iR1)
  2. / Renoir: 1980 art-works ! (=iR2; not available anymore)
  3. (many art-works per decade; with information on the works and advertisements = iR52)
  4. / Renoir (info and pictures = iR3)
  5. / Renoir (1405 art-works; 1 chronological list; or 20 works on one page, it’s not easy to go back and forth (=iR7))
  6. / Renoir (no full page pictures =iR22)
  7. Google Art Project / Renoir (possibility to zoom = iR8)
  8. (museum in the former house of Renoir)
  9.  (Detailed information on Renoir and his pictures in Dutch = iR21.)
  10. (many pictures with restricted text ment for selling reproductions, only titles, no further info)
  11. (extended document on the work of Renoir in the Art Institute in Chicago with detailed information and photo’s = iR30)
  12. “Pierre-Auguste Renoir.” In Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME). European Paintings and Drawings 1905-1915. Last modified Dec 17, 2020.  =iR261; overview of contributions of Renoir in exhibitions and auctions from 1905-1915.


Recommanded citation: “Impressionism: Sketches of Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Last modified 2024/06/02.”