top of page

Pierre-Auguste Renoir... The Beaux-Arts de Paris Apprentice

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

In 1844, Impressionism pioneer the French painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 Haute-Vienne – 3 December 1919 Cagnes-sur-Mer, France) moved with his family to Paris, the location of their new home in rue d’Argenteuil in central Paris placed Renoir in proximity to the Louvre.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir... The Beaux-Arts de Paris Apprentice

Renoir at the age of thirteen started an apprenticeship at a porcelain factory. Renoir's trainer at the porcelain factory recognized his apprentice's talent and informed Renoir's family. Following this, Renoir started taking lessons to prepare for Ecole des Beaux-Arts entry.

In Paris 1862, Renoir began studying art under Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre (2 May 1806 – 5 May 1874) the Swiss artist who was a resident in France and taught a number of younger artists who became prominent.

There Renoir met Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Claude Monet. During the 1860s, Renoir and Monet studied painting light and water outdoors, they discovered that the color of shadows is not brown or black, but the reflected color of the objects surrounding them, an effect known today as "Diffuse reflection".

Several pairs of paintings exist in which Renoir and Monet worked side-by-side, depicting the same scenes, for example "La Grenouillère, 1869".

Renoir had his first success at the Salon of 1868 with his painting "Lise with a Parasol, 1867", the painting depicted Lise Tréhot, his lover at the time. After a series of rejections by the Salon juries, Renoir joined Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and several other artists to mount the first Impressionist exhibition in April 1874, in which Renoir displayed six paintings.

Renoir resumed submitting his paintings to the Salon till he was accepted and achieved remarkable success at the Salon of 1879 with his painting "Mme Charpentier and her Children".

During a trip to Italy in 1881, Renoir saw works by Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, and other Renaissance masters, Renoir declared, "I had gone as far as I could with Impressionism, and I realized I could neither paint nor draw".

Renoir had broken with the impressionism movement to apply a more disciplined formal technique to his paintings. For the next several years Renoir painted in a more traditional style in an attempt to return to classicism.

After 1890 he returned again to more spontaneous outlines, as in his earlier work, he returned to thinly brushed color. his subjects were mainly monumental nudes and domestic scenes.

Renoir's struggles with rheumatoid arthritis forced him to move to the warmer climate of "Les Collettes", a farm in the village of Cagnes-sur-Mer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, close to the Mediterranean coast. During Renoir's last twenty years, Renoir developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder.

Though arthritis severely limited Renoir's ability to paint, Renoir remained able to grasp a brush. Renoir's portrait of Austrian actress Tilla Durieux (1914) just five years before his death highlights Renoir's gorgeous ability to paint despite the pain of his arthritis deformities.

Renoir's paintings are notable for their sensitive light transitions and saturated hues, Renoir's paintings mainly depict people in intimate and candid strong compositions. The female nude was one of Renoir's primary subjects.

1876 Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir
1876 Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir

Remarkably Renoir's "1876 Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette)" was one of the best impressionism paintings ever. The painting depicts a popular dance garden, close to where he lived at the Butte Montmartre.

In his advanced years, when Renoir was asked why he continued to create paintings with his painful arthritis, Renoir answered "The pain passes, but the beauty remains".

Renoir was a prolific artist; Renoir created several thousand paintings. Renoir died in Cagnes-sur-Mer on 3 December 1919 at the age of 78. Renoir is not just an impressionism pioneer, but a memory of a warm sensuality.

The Beaux-Arts de Paris (Grande école)

The Beaux-Arts de Paris (Grande école) is a French classical and historical School of Fine Arts. The Beaux-Arts de Paris is the original of a series of Écoles des beaux-arts in French regional centers.

The Beaux-Arts de Paris is part of the Paris Sciences et Lettres University. The Beaux-Arts de Paris's primary mission is to provide high-level arts education.

In 1648, The school was founded by Charles Le Brun under the name Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. In 1793, During the French Revolution, the institute was suppressed.

However, in 1817, it was revived and merged with the Académie d'architecture. an imperial decree on 13 November 1863, declared the school is supervised by the Ministry of Public Instruction, the École des Beaux-Arts is now a public establishment under the Ministry of Culture.

Before 1816, Beaux-Arts students were taught elsewhere. the school land had been the convent of the Petits Augustins, then the Musée des Monuments français (1795–1816) assembled at the site of the school as a result of the destruction of churches and noble chateaux during the French revolution.

In 1830, architect Félix Duban, a former student and winner of the Grand Prix de Rome, began a transformation of the site, Duban continued to expand and improve the complex for decades. Duban meant the entire complex as an open-air encyclopedia for artists and architects. Many world-renowned artists have studied at this institution.

Today, Beaux-Arts de Paris provides the highest level of education in contemporary art production. Studies in Beaux-Arts de Paris include painting, installation, graphic arts, photography, sculpture, digital media, and video. The apprentice undergoes technical training supported by Theoretical courses.

The schoolhouses prestigious historical collections and an extensive fine arts library as the school owns the largest public art collection in France, the collection contains around 450,000 artworks encompassing many types of artistic productions, paintings, sculptures, and etchings as well as historical books from all periods of art history.

Also, the media center organizes conferences, seminars, and debates throughout the year. The school also publishes a dozen texts per year and holds exhibitions ranging from the collections of old-master drawings to the most recent contemporary artworks.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page