Renoir: An Intimate Biography

Barbara Ehrlich White. Thames & Hudson, $39.95 (465p) ISBN 978-0-500-23957-5
White (Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters) delivers a moving biography of French impressionist painter Auguste Renoir (1841–1919), sourced from thousands of letters and hundreds of previously unpublished writings by the artist, his family, and his friends, including many first-generation impressionists. Renoir got his start studying art in the studio of Swiss painter Charles Gleyre at age 21, which experience placed him in the orbit of Manet, Monet, and Degas, with whom he exhibited in their early independent exhibitions. Still, his art was often ridiculed by the critics, and he lived in abject poverty into his mid-40s. By the 1880s, the public had gradually warmed to the impressionistic style. Bolstered by a receptive American public, sympathetic art dealers, and the critical success of now-iconic works such as The Boating Party, Renoir became famous and financially secure enough to finally marry his longtime model and mistress, Aline Charigot. But as his fame increased, his health deteriorated. Severe rheumatoid arthritis left him wheelchair bound, and, his hands rendered nearly useless, he relied entirely on assistants to place his palette and brushes in his hands as he worked. Nevertheless, much to the admiration of his colleagues (Monet especially), he continued painting in spite of his physical ailments, motivated by a selfless desire to impart beauty to the world even as Europe plunged into the cataclysmic inferno of WWI. White’s research is exhaustive, her enthusiasm is infectious, and her style is unaffected, ensuring that this touching biography will enjoy a broad readership encompassing both specialists and general art enthusiasts alike. Color illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/07/2017
Release date: 10/17/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 311 pages - 978-0-8109-9607-6
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