Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in 1841 to Marguerite Merlet and Léonard Renoir. In 1844 his family moved to Paris and by 1854, at the young age of thirteen, began painting flowers on porcelain cups and saucers. Through his parents, he began as a painter for the porcelain industry; his parents felt this was the perfect start for the beginnings of an artist. He came from the town of Limoges, where porcelain became almost a symbol of status and wealth. By 1860 he had left the porcelain factory in favor of becoming a full time painter; he was granted permission to copy paintings in the Lourve where he began to admire the eighteenth century masters. In 1862 he entered the studio of Marc-Gabriel-Charles Gleyre, a Swiss teacher who offered instruction to many upcoming artists, where he met such influences as Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. Along with this, he began attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Through this he finally developed his unique brush stroke and style that was to be his own. From there, he became part of the Impressionist Era, which gave birth to a splendid era of painting which changed art forever. This new movement began in France which was what became the cultural center of Europe, and later the world.
France was an inviting place for an artist in the nineteenth century. A nation which clearly “offered the necessary conditions for an art form to flourish that was domestic scale, devoted to sensual pleasure and addressed to the private collector.” This all came about during a time when France was establishing itself as one of the cultural centers of the world. This was a peaceful era, that saw a discernible increase in industrial productivity leading to greater middle-class prosperity and freedom. Through all this, increased activity in the art world began to develop. Through a boom in collecting and dealing art, artwork became a commodity that embodied the most positive and realizable value. These factors, together with many more, helped pave the way for the “impressionist” movement that we so fondly admire today.
The idiom “impressionism” was originally suggested by a critic reviewing Monet’s Impression, Sunrise (1872), who blasted the painting “as a prime example of the slapdash appearance of the canvases on view at the first Impressionist exhibition.” This radical movement, born in Paris and parts of northern France, began what was the rejection of the intellectual ambition towards idealism and perfection; it replaced it instead with a dedication to an art of the everyday and to improvisatory methods perfected to capture momentary and fleeting observations. Impressionist art brought with it a characteristic and long-lasting originality and approachability that, until now, was never found in the art of earlier periods. The interests of these painters seem to be relevant to our own and function humbly by exciting our visual contentment. The term “impressionism” itself entails a great assemblage of...