In 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was 34 years old, and beginning to have some success as a painter. The year before, in Paris, he had teamed up with fellow impressionists, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille to present the first Impressionist exhibition.
The exhibit was not popular with art critics of the time, but Renoir’s work was well received. After the exhibit closed, French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who had fled Paris for London in 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, successfully exhibited two of Renoir’s paintings in London.
There were years, at the start of his career, that Renoir was a struggling artist in Paris, and didn’t have enough money to buy paint. The practical side of the artist led him to display a variety of paintings in 1875, including portraits, which he hoped would lead to commissions.
In a letter to Marguerite Charpentier, wife of an influential publisher who often hosted receptions at her Paris home, to which Renoir was frequently invited, he wrote, “Alas I shall very probably not be able to dine with you. I began a portrait this morning; I begin another this evening, and it is extremely likely that I shall have a third to do afterwards. If I have to stay for dinner, and begin tomorrow, all these people will go away, and my head is in a complete muddle with them.”
About two years after writing the letter, Renoir painted a portrait of Madame Charpentier and her children, which is part of the permanent collection of The Met.
The letter also speaks to Renoir’s work ethic. He produced several thousand works during his lifetime, working even when, in his fifties, rheumatoid arthritis made it difficult for him to hold a brush.
Although Renoir focused on the female form during his entire career, Renoir and Monet often painted plein-air.
“For me, a painting must be a pleasant thing, joyous and pretty – yes, pretty.” Renoir said, “There are too many unpleasant things in life for us to fabricate still more.”
Pierre-Auguste Renoir at Surovek Gallery
Besides oil painting, Renoir drew many of the Paris street scenes, depicting the leisure activities of Parisians.
Done in pastel, Au Moulin de la Galette is one of many work that Renoir did of social life in the district of Montmartre.
Please contact us if you would like more information about Au Moulin de la Galette or any of the fine works available at Surovek Gallery.