Renoir, French (1841 - 1919)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born
on 25 February 1841 in Limoges. He was the sixth child of Léonard
Renoir (1799-1874) and Marguerite Merlet (1807-1896). In 1844
Renoir and his family moved to Paris where Léonard Renoir
earned his living as a tailor.
In 1854 Renoir left school and begin his apprenticeship as a
porcelain painter at the firm of Lévy frcres. His precocious
talent for painting would assure his career as a porcelain painter
but the firm went bankrupt in 1858. After that Renoir dabbled
in a number of different jobs but it seems that he may have
decided to become a full-time painter around this date.
On January 24, 1860 Renoir was granted permission to copy in
the Louvre, a practice that he maintained for the next four
years. At this time Renoir had a taste for eighteenth-century
masters, including Fragonard, Lancret, Watteau and above all
Boucher. Boucher's Bath of Diana was the first painting that
he adored and he continued to love it all his life.
By the following year, 1861, Renoir had begun attending the
studio of Marc-Gabriel-Charles Gleyer, a Swiss teacher who offered
practical instruction to a number of artists. At the same time
Renoir enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and he was there
from 1 April 1862 until a couple of years later. In 1863 Renoir
may have submitted a work to the official Salon (an annual exhibition
of paintings chosen by the jury) but if he did it seams that
the jury refused it.
At the Salon the following year Renoir had his first success
- the painting entitled Esmeralda Dancing with her Goat around
a Fire Illuminating the Entire Crowd of Vagabonds, which he
destroyed after the exhibition.
At the Gleyre's studio Renoir worked with other young artists
with whom he had become friendly and these were the future Impressionist
painters Claude Monet (1840-1924), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899)
and Jean-Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870).