Renoir was a French painter during the mid 19th, and beginning 20th century. He is mainly known for his participation in the Impressionist movement. This art movement concentrates on taking the “impression” of a scene. Almost like a picture of a certain moment. For instance, Monet’s Impression, Sunset is a good example of capturing a moment in the sky.
One has to consider the reaction of individuals in France when seeing this new art movement. During this time, many people still valued traditional, realistic art. Though to us, this art style seems pretty realistic and astounding, to individual of the time this could have been seen extremely different from the standards.
There are two artworks by Renoir that are very popular, and I wanted to bring to your guys attention. One of these is the Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1882.
This painting was included in the 7th Impressionist Exhibition, and it was seen as one of the best in that exhibition. This painting is meant to be a representation of Renoir’s friends enjoying themselves. In this scene they are eating and drinking wine at the Maison Fournaise restaurant. This painting is meant to show the lavish society of the 18th and 19th century that many people could participate in. This restaurant in particular was known for trying to include individuals, no matter what class or status, in this new lavish society.
It is said that Renoir created this piece without deeply studying his work. He simply worked with paint on the canvas, rather than practicing figures in his sketch book before working on the canvas. Here is a brief video that talks about how his painting was purchased, and a little bit about the painting.
Another piece of art that I wanted to show is Bal du moulin de la Galette, 1876 (the cover painting!).
This artwork shows individuals at the Moulin de la Galette, on a Sunday afternoon. Many times in his time period, the working class would dress up and dance here. It was a time to relax and enjoy themselves before having to go back to work. This concept reminds me of a painting by John Sloan, called Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair. In Sloan’s work, the women here are relaxing on a Sunday morning, missing church, so they could be relaxed for the work week ahead.
What’s characteristic of Renoir in this is how there are some hazy qualities in the brushstrokes. Yet it is easy to distinguish the characters and the scene. This, in a way, makes the figures appear almost merged. In addition, most of the figures have similar faces or look almost identical. This may be because he lacked models, or he saw so many faces that he wanted to create familiar faces over and over again since these were face details he was good at (these are just guesses).
The random lights around the image is the sunlight being shown probably through trees (talk about talent!) He also uses a light palette, his colors being rich but soft and delicate at the same time. Creating a painting that is not harsh to the eyes.
In a book called Renoir by Paul Walton, it is said that this painting “is the artist’s most complex figure composition, summarizing his feeling about the beauty and joy that he discovered in scenes of modern life.”