Soft & Beautiful Impressionism – Pierre Auguste Renoir Paintings

Pierre-Auguste Renoir paintings are distinguishable by his use of bright colors, cheery subjects and his softness.

Renoir disliked the traditional art style of the time. He aligned himself with the Impressionism art movement. He collaborated with other avant garde artists, such as Monet, Sisley, and Bazille.

Together with these young artists, they founded the Impressionist movement. Their painting style depicted subjects and landscapes naturally. Their philosophy was to paint outdoors (en plein-air) and not within a confined studio. This was considered somewhat radical in the 19th century!

Auguste Renoir paintings - self portrait
Self portrait – Auguste Renoir paintings [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Renoir’s Biography

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. He started out as an apprentice to a porcelain painter and studied drawing in his free time.

After years as a struggling painter, Renoir moved to Paris where he started studying art. He soon befriended three other young emerging French artists: Frédéric Bazille, Claude Monet, and Alfred Sisley and through Monet, he met Camille Pissarro and Paul Cezanne.

Together and with others, they launched the impressionism art movement in the 1870s.

Renoir portrait of Monet reading
Portrait of Claude Monet – Auguste Renoir paintings
Renoir [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Without him [Claude Monet] I would have given up”
-Pierre Auguste Renoir-

Renoir Exhibits With the Impressionism Painters

Renoir, Monet and others decided to show their impressionism paintings in Paris in 1874, which became known as the first Impressionist exhibition.

The group’s name was derived from a critical review of their show, in which the works were called “impressions” rather than paintings painted using traditional methods.

The impressionist artists practiced plein-air painting (painting landscapes outside), painted with brighter colors  and used less refined brushstrokes, giving the pictures a more cheerful feel than the art of that period.

Their art was criticized. It would take many more years until their art form would be appreciated and accepted.

Renoir struggles Financially

While the exhibition helped raise Renoir’s profile in the art world, Renoir still struggled to make a living. He sought out commissions for portraits and often depended on the kindness of his friends, mentors, and patrons to financially get by.

Auguste Renoir paintings -Pont Neuf, Paris
LPont-Neuf, Paris – Auguste Renoir paintings [Public domain]

As his fame grew, Renoir settled down. He married his longtime girlfriend Aline Charigot in 1890 and they had three children. Renoir bought a house in Essoyes, a small village nestled amongst the vineyards in the Champagne-Ardenne region in France.

Portrait of his family - Auguste Renoir paintings [Public domain]
Portrait of his family – Auguste Renoir paintings [Public domain]

In his early fifties, Renoir started suffering with rheumatism, disfiguring his hands and making it difficult for him to paint.

Remarkably, Renoir’s paintings were his best works when his arthritis was at its worst. He also added sculpting to his artistic endeavors.

When he was no longer able to sculpt himself, he directed assistants to achieve what he had in mind.

For the 60 year span as an artist, Renoir’s paintings total around 4,000 masterpieces. 

Luncheon of the Boating Party - famous Renoir painting

Luncheon of the Boating Party | © Nemethd/WikiCommons

Renoir Quote:

“For me a picture has to be something pleasant, delightful, and pretty — yes, pretty. There are enough unpleasant things in the world without us producing even more.”

Renoir moves to Cagnes-sur-Mer

In 1907, Renoir bought some land in Cagnes-sur-Mer, in the Cote D’Azur. Here he built a stately home for his family. Renoir continued to work, painting whenever he could. In the summer months, he returned with his family to his other house in Essoyes.

Renoir's house in Cagnes-sur-Mer - today a museum
Renoir’s house in Cagnes-sur-Mer – today a museum

The world-renowned Renoir continued to paint until his death. He lived long enough to see one of his works bought by the Louvre in 1919, a tremendous honor for any artist.

Renoir died that December at his home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France and buried next to his wife, Aline (who died in 1915). Renoir and his family are buried in the local cemetery in Essoyes.

Museums to view Auguste Renoir paintings


If you are in Paris, you can view a rich collection of Renoir’s paintings together with the artworks of all impressionist artists in Musée D’OrsayMusee l’Orangerie, Petit Palais and Musée Marmottan.

Also, go visit the Montmartre Museum (Musee de Montmartre). This museum is in one of oldest houses of Montmartre, where once fourteen famous personalities lived during different times. Amongst them were the artists RenoirValadon and her son, Utrillo and Dufy. Today, this old house with an incredible artistic past, has been converted into a wonderful museum.

Day Trip to Essoyes

Take a day trip to the beautiful rustic village Essoyes. Here you can visit:

  • Renoir’s House
  • Renoir painting studio
  • The Renoir Space – a center with changing exhibitions about Renoir
  • Go on a Renoir walking trail; and
  • Visit his grave in the local cemetery
Renoir's home in Essoyes - Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting
Pierre August Renoir Painting of his home in Essoyes [Public Domain]

Cagnes-Sur-Mer, on the French Riviera

In Cagnes-sur-Mer, France, Renoir’s former house is now open to the public as a museum, The Renoir Museum (musee Renoir).  It is a little gem, providing you with a very personal view of the artist and his family life.

Do you love historical fiction books?

If yes, I highly recommend the wonderful book by the author Susan Vreeland called Luncheon of the Boating Party. This book is based on Renoir’s iconic painting.

The painter and the models behind this painting come alive with their stories. You are immersed into the life of 19th century Paris and the inner art circle of the impressionists. Although only historical fiction, the author has certainly done her homework. Press here for my full review.

La Grenouillere  - Pierre Auguste Renoir Painting
La Grenouillere – Pierre Auguste Renoir Painting [Public Domain]

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