Pierre Auguste Renoir (June 2021)

Photograph of the artist, Pierre Auguste Renoir
Photograph of Pierre Auguste Renoir by Unknown Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt (Réunion des musées nationaux) Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was a  French artist and leading painter of the Impressionist style. Born in 1841, he was more commonly known as Auguste Renoir.  Below is Renoir’s largest portrait painting of his career, The Artist’s Family, 1896.

Portrait painting, The Artist's Family by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Portrait painting, The Artist’s Family by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in Public Domain

In this painting, we see a happy rosy cheeked family arranged in a stable composition. Renoir often had his family and friends serve as models for his paintings.

In this group portrait, Renoir presents his family as a proper bourgeois family. In the center, we see his wife Aline, a hat maker. Next to her is their oldest son Pierre, and the toddler is actually their son Jean who will later become a recognized film maker and ceramicist.

The nanny, Gabrielle Renard, cradles the baby, and the young girl is most likely a neighbor. This painting is all about stability and connectedness. The heads of all the figures form the perimeter of a circle. This, with the physical touching and warmth, holds the composition together. Notice the gazes between the young neighbor girl and Pierre, the nanny and baby Jean. It is an intimate family scene.


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