Renoir’s landscapes

Renoir's landscapes
I have to go on record as saying that Pierre Auguste Renoir is not one of my favorite painters.

Certainly among the original French Impressionists, I find him the weakest and most inconsistent — not a painter at the level of his contemporaries in the Impressionist circle. Renoir was prolific, and I’ve seen enough bad Renoirs to last a lifetime, even if at the Barnes Foundation alone.

That being said, I will turn around and say that I like very much some of Renoir’s landscapes, particularly those in which he has not lapsed into such a profusion of soft edges as to make the landscape seem melted.

At his best, Renoir’s landscapes can be richly colored, atmospheric and rendered with a subtle range of values. There are paintings in which Renoir uses his proclivity for softness to advantage, contrasting it with more sharply focused passages.

The links I give below are to general resources for Renoir images on the web; you’ll have to dig through them to find landscapes, particularly those landscapes in which Renoir is at his best. But if, like me, you have a tendency to dismiss Renoir from seeing too many weak portraits and figures, you may find his best landscapes worth seeking out.

Those who just love love love Renoir can feel free to flame me in the comments (grin).

 
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10 Replies to “Renoir’s landscapes”

  1. Thanks for bringing these to our attention, Charlie. They certainly do depart from his usual mastery of painting fuzz.

    Bill

  2. I’ve seen the Renoirs at the Barnes and I agree they are substandard..but I also learned that he had terrible, terribly arthritis in his hands and he kept painting anyway, so I have more appreciation of those late works than I did.

  3. Thanks, Lynn. Yes, I’m aware of the physical difficulty he faced later in his life, and I admire him for persevering, as I do Monet in the face of his vision problems; but the weakness I find in Renoir’s work runs throughout his career. It’s just a matter of personal preference on my part, of course.

  4. I’ve never been a fan of Renoir either. Seeing about 30 of his paintings in person didn’t change that view. I do respect his perseverance in the face of his physical challenges though.

  5. I have never much cared for his figurative pieces (all the people in them look alike to me), but some of these are really lovely. Thanks for a different view of Renoir.

  6. From the age of 13 he supported the Renoir-Merlet family of nine and studied painting by working in a porcelain factory, Levy Freres et Compagnie. Later, by the time he was 17, he decorated silk fans, etc.
    http://www.humanitiesweb.org/spa/gcb/ID/40
    Renoir Priceless Quote: “You should get away from the intoxication of real light and digest your impressions in the reduced light of a room. then you can get drunk on sunshine again.
    You go out and work, and you come back and work, and finally your picture begins to look like something …I am struggling to make my figures become one with their background landscape. I am a poet and poets must dream.”
    Source: The Hidden Renoir by Donald T. Phillips.
    ISBN: 978-0-9828484-0-1

  7. I’m a great Renoir fan, but I think he’s very feminine, even if he is a man. His men look feminine, his women do of course, and even his landscapes look feminine. Having said that there’s nothing wrong with being feminine. It’s just that I couldn’t imagine a red blooded man striding through his landscapes.

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