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The painter of joy, youth, and grace, Pierre-August Renoir, was born in Limoges (Haute-Vienne) on February 25, 1841. He came to Paris when he was very young, and at first took up painting on porcelain to support himself. Then, in 1859, he enrolled in Gleyre’s studio at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he met Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley. The similarity in their artistic tastes and in the direction of their interests made the three young painters the best of friends.
In 1864, Renoir sent a painting to the Salon for the first time, where it was accepted, as were the works he entered in 1865, 1969, 1870, and 1872. However, in 1873, the jury refused two of Renoir’s paintings for their novelty style. This setback only encouraged him more than ever to pursue his newly developing “impressionist” interests. Renoir subsequently participated in the first exhibition of the Impressionists in 1874, as well as the exhibitions of 1876 and 1877, along with Monet, Manet, Pissarro, Sisley, Morisot, and others. Shortly after the first show, the artists tried their luck at a public sale, the results of which proved disastrous: a work by Renoir brought barely 100 francs. A second attempt in 1877 was scarcely more successful. Following that, the young artists, whose works would eventually triumph at the Hotel Drouot, gave up their attempts at auctions. Dealers and collectors, whose eyes spotted the genius in Renoir’s talent, eventually catapulted him into the position of a highly sought after artist.
In later years, Renoir continued to paint in spite of appalling difficulties caused by his semi-paralysis and arthritis. Although his hands were in failing condition, Renoir’s arm was as steady as that of a young man, and his eyesight as keen. Difficulties notwithstanding, Renoir painted rich and joyful pictures right up to the day of his death in 1919.