Not too many artists in history have been able to capture female beauty than this renowned French artist did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was one of the driving forces of the Impressionist art movement and produced some of the most remarkable Impressionist paintings in the process.
The Impressionist artist was one of the founding members of the annual Impressionist exhibition and started exhibiting his paintings in 1874 at these events.
Lighthearted social events, female nudes, and young girls and women depicted casually are what define Renoir’s oeuvre.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
1. Bal du moulin de la Galette
- Date created: 1876
- Dimensions: 131 × 175 centimeters (52 × 69 inches)
- Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
Bal du moulin de la Galette is also known as Dance at Le moulin de la Galette and is one of the most famous paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It depicts a Sunday afternoon at an establishment called Moulin de la Galette which was located in the Montmartre District of Paris.
Renoir was living and working in a studio in this district in northern Paris and did so, especially so he could paint this work. The artist included many acquaintances in this work as they are dancing and having a good time. It’s a snapshot of what went on this near the windmill that still stands in this location today.
2. Luncheon of the Boating Party
- Date created: 1880-1881
- Dimensions: 129.9 × 172.7 centimeters (51 × 68 inches)
- Location: Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., United States
Luncheon of the Boating Party is another magnificent painting by Renoir that depicts a group of people having a good time. We can see a scene that takes place on the balcony of the Maison Fournaise restaurant, a restaurant along the banks of the River Seine in Chatou in the west of Paris.
Just like in many other paintings, Renoir included his friends and also the owner of the establishment, prominently displayed with the hat on the left. The man with the hat sitting down is fellow artist Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894), and Aline Chrigot (1858-1915), the woman playing with the dog and the artist’s future wife.
3. Pink and Blue
- Date created: 1881
- Dimensions: 119 × 74 centimeters (47 x 29 inches)
- Location: São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, Brazil
Pink and Blue is an adorable painting by Renoir which depicts the sisters Alice and Elisabeth. They were the daughters of Louise Cahen d’Anvers and her husband, a Jewish banker named Louis Raphaël Cahen d’Anvers. Alive (left) and Elisabeth (right) were five and six years old respectively.
This was the second painting that Pierre-Auguste Renoir produced for the family. He also painted “Little Irène” (1880) which depicts the eldest daughter of the couple just a year earlier. One of the girls later recalled that the sitting sessions were extremely boring but that wearing the cute dress made up for all of it.
4. The Theater Box
- Date created: 1874
- Dimensions: 80 × 63.5 centimeters (31 × 25 inches)
- Location: Courtauld Gallery, London, United Kingdom
The Theater Box is also known as “The Loge” and depicts a young couple who is enjoying a performance at the Paris Theater. The woman has been identified as Nini Lopez, a woman that appears in 14 different paintings by the artist. The man in this work was Renoir’s brother Edmond.
Going to the theater was an important social event in Paris during the late 19th century and this is emphasized by the exuberant clothes that the woman is wearing. The man, on the other hand, is using so-called “opera glasses” to check out other people in the crowd.
5. The Large Bathers
- Date created: 1884-1887
- Dimensions: 115 cm × 170 centimeters (46.4 x 67.3 inches)
- Location: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, United States
The Large Bathers or “Les Grandes Baigneuses” is one of many nudes that Renoir produced, mostly related to the subject of bathing. Unlike most other paintings which depict a single woman “many of with were modeled by his future wife Aline,” this work depicts several women taking a bath.
The playful nature of the painting is emphasized by the fact that the woman on the right is about the splash the seated woman with water. She leans back in anticipation of this. This painting is believed to have been inspired by a relief sculpture located in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles called “The Bath of the Nymphs (1672).”
6. Bois de la Chaise (Noirmoutier)
- Date created: 1892
- Dimensions: 65.5 x 81 centimeters (25.7 x 31.8 inches)
- Location: Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, United States
Bois de la Chaise (Noirmoutier) was an Impressionist artist pur sang which means that he mostly painted outdoors. He traveled frequently and visited the tidal island of Noirmoutier which is situated n the Atlantic West Coast of France, during the Summer of 1892.
The utmost northern part of the island is covered by a dense forest called the “Bois de la Chaise.” This place is renowned for its picturesque views of the Atlantic Oceans through the pine trees. This view was magnificently captured by Renoir in this stunning painting.
7. Woman Crocheting
- Date created: 1875
- Dimensions: 73.5 x 60.3 centimeters (28.93 x 23.75 inches)
- Location: Clark Art Institute, Williamsburg, United States
Woman Crocheting is a painting by Renoir that always reminds me of Vermeer’s “The Lacemaker” (1669-1670), even though Vermeer’s painting was completed over 2 centuries earlier. The woman is completely absorbed in her everyday task which makes it a genre painting, not a portrait.
This is a painting that was acquired by Robert Sterling Clark in 1916, the heir of a rich industrialist who was a great fan of Renoir’s paintings. It was the first painting of over 30 paintings by Renoir that he acquired and it laid the foundation of the Clark Art Institute Museum.
8. La Promenade
- Date created: 1870
- Dimensions: 81.3 × 65 centimeters (32 × 26 inches)
- Location: Getty Museum, Los Angeles, United States
La Promenade is a painting that was completed during the early phase of the artist’s career. It highlights the painterly style that made Renoir one of the most renowned Impressionist artists of his generation. It depicts a young couple who are walking through the woodland wearing expensive clothes.
This period in history was marked by a revival of Rococo art of the 18th century. Renoir embraced this revival and found inspiration from the paintings of Jean-Antoine Watteau and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The style of painting which features bold brushstrokes was inspired by the paintings of Claude Monet.
9. The Swing
- Date created: 1876
- Dimensions: 92 × 73 centimeters (36.2 × 28.7 inches)
- Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
The Swing is a painting that Pierre-Auguste Renoir compelled around the same time that he completed his famous Bal du Moulin de la Galette in 1876. This means that it also depicts a scene in Montmartre, more specifically, the area right next to his studio which is now the Musée de Montmartre gardens.
The model in this work was one of Renoir’s favorites named Jeanne Samary (1857-1890). She appears in many of the artist’s paintings, including the Luncheon of the Boating Party. The two men have been identified as the artist’s brother Edmond and one of their friends named Norbert Goeneutte (1854-1894) who was a painter himself.
10. Two Sisters (On the Terrace)
- Date created: 1881
- Dimensions: 100.5 × 81 centimeters (39.6 × 31.9 inches)
- Location: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, United States
Two Sisters is the title given to this painting by Renoir, On the Terrace is the name given to it by the work’s first owner, the renowned French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. This painting was completed at the Maison Fournaise, the same location as the Luncheon of the Boating Party.
It depicts a young girl and a girl who the artist identified as her little sister. Both girls are near the railing of the establishment and we can see the shrubs that grow on the banks of the River Seine behind them. The oldest girl was 18 at the time and a future actress named Jeanne Darlot (1863-1914). The identity f the young girl is unknown but it’s probably that the two were not related at all.