5 Essential Books to Explore Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his Impressionist Art Style

Author: Sherry Helms

One of the most celebrated painters of Impressionist era, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. A leading painter in the development of an artistic movement called Impressionism in 1870s, he painted every day for 60 years –that’s over 5,000 paintings. Today, on his 172nd birth anniversary, let’s know more about this archetypal artist and his impressionist artworks.

Of all the Impressionist artists, only Pierre Auguste Renoir earned distinction as a professional portrait painter. For more than fifty years Renoir explored the genre of portraiture, experimenting and pressing forward in his determination to become, as he explained to Monet in 1884, “a painter of figures”.

Renoir is now universally acclaimed as museums pride themselves on his paintings and crowds flock to his retrospectives. His work shows art at its most light-hearted, sensual and luminous. Renoir never wanted anything ugly in his paintings, nor any dramatic action. “I like pictures which make me want to wander through them when it’s a landscape”, he said, “or pass my hand over breast or back if it’s a woman”. Renoir’s entire oeuvre is dominated by the depiction of women. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that “Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.” To know more about him as a painter and his painting nuances, you may read Peter H Feist’s groundbreaking biographical epic Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919: A Dream of Harmony.

Likewise, author Barbara Ehrlich White wrote an investigative book on Renoir’s life and remarkable works: Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters“. For twenty years, White has devoted much of her life to searching out unpublished letters, drawings and documents that reveal Renoir’s life as an artist and as a man. With 400 illustrations including 125 in color, this book further includes seldom reproduced works of Renoir, as well as some intimate photos of family and homes. This book would come out as an useful resource for the painting scholars.

If you are interested in having sumptuous feast for your eyes, you may check out the book, Renoir: A Master of Impressionism compiled by Gerhard Gruitrooy. A handsomely illustrated volume, it offers insight into the live and works of Renoir. And, the thing that makes the book unique is that every painting is shown in rich colors in a section taking up half the book. From aw-inspiring landscapes and portraiture to outdoor paintings and depictions of bathers, this volume offers an intimate view of the artist and his work.

Young readers will obtain a light-hearted, yet realistic overview of Renoir’s life through the kid’s special book, Pierre Auguste Renoir (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists), and will get to know how his style changed over the years. This introductory guide includes full color pictures of Renoir and his acclaimed paintings.

There is another handy book on Renoir for children: Smart About Art, Pierre-Auguste Renoir Paintings That Smile that reflects the same joie de vivre expressed in Renoir’s works on every page through colorful, dynamic illustrations and 17 reproductions. With humor and insight, this title takes young minds through the life of an artist who at first was so unpopular that his paintings were attacked with umbrellas. Written as if it were a child’s own class report, this book is sure to draw new young fans to Renoir’s paintings.

Some of the widely acclaimed Impressionist works of Renoir are:


"Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette"

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette), 1876, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

"The Theater Box"

The Theater Box, 1874 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London

"Girls at the Piano"

Girls at the Piano, 1892, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

"On the Terrace"

On the Terrace, oil on canvas, 1881, Art Institute of Chicago


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