Pierre-Auguste Renoir: The Venice Connection

“-last words about painting, age 78…

I think I’m beginning to learn something about it.”  Pierre-Auguste Renoir

The Doges’ Palace, Venice By Pierre-Auguste Renoir

 

Today is Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s birthday, which makes it the 178th year since his birth on February 25, 1841 in Limoges, France.  We know Renoir for being a foremost painter in the development of the Impressionist style, but what is less well-known is that his talent for singing was superior to his talent for drawing.   His singing was encouraged by his teacher, the renowned Charles Gounard, choir-master at the Church of St. Roch at the time, and famous composer known for the beautiful Ave Maria, based on a work by Johann Sebastian Bach.

Life has a way of unfolding in mysterious ways.  Singing was not Renoir’s destiny.  Instead, family circumstances, a gentile way of saying that money was scarce, prompted Renoir to pursue an apprenticeship at a porcelain factory. And the rest is history…

And what a history it was.  Pierre-August would go on to meet Alfred Sisley, Jean Frédéric Bazille and Claude Monet.  He was inspired by Camille Pissarro and Eduardo Manet, and studied the works of Camille Corot and Eugene Delacroix.  Travelling inspired his creative spirit – Algeria, Madrid, Florence, Rome and Venice, which gave vibrancy to his paintings of faraway lands.

To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.”

 Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir’s painting of the Piazza San Marco, Venice was the catalyst for my exploration into artists who used travel to ignite innovation into their artistic endeavours.  These paintings allow us to venture back to a time and place that once was, and yet still is, only with the changes brought by the passing years.

Join me as we travel to Venice with the artists that used their paintbrushes to capture her vitality, beauty, sophistication and stories.

Happy Birthday, Pierre-August Renoir.

 

19 Comments

  1. manningtreearchive

    Venice, which we would call ‘The Jewel of Italy’, is the place where we frequent more often – definitely owing to its glorious past, culture, society, and ambiance that have led Venice to become one of the marvellous cities of the world. A beautiful post, Rebecca. Jo

    1. Clanmother

      “The Jewel of Italy” – what a wonderful way to define Venice, Jo. In my research, I found that approximately 20 Million tourists visit Venice annually – and it is increasing every year. I agree wholeheartedly – “its glorious past, culture, society, and ambiance” calls us. We want to experience what it was, and is, like to be a Venetian. As Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote so eloquently: “Venice, its temples and places did seem like fabrics of enchantment piled to heaven.”

  2. Ms Frances

    s Thank you for this outstanding post. It gives me such a vivid picture and important story of an outstanding gentleman who took the opportunities and even hardships to develop such beautiful works of Art. I would have liked to hear him sing as well. Interesting that he should meet and be a friend of so many gifted people

    1. Clanmother

      I am delighted that you enjoyed this post. Renoir had a marvelous way of seeing the world – he recognized that sadness, fear, despair was an integral part of the human experience. His response was to create “pleasant things” as a way to remind us all that there is beauty, compassion and hope. I do not think he was avoiding or sidestepping the “unpleasant.” Rather, his work was a testament to the many joys that come to us in unexpected times.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, Elisabeth. Here is an interesting outcome of my mini-research on Renoir and Venice – where are the people? I always associate Renoir with creating memorable family or friend outings. Even in his tranquil garden settings, there is a distinct person in reverie. In the Piazza San Marco painting, the figures are hazy shapes. Perhaps the architecture transcended the crowds that congregated in the Piazza. The Doges’ Palace painting has the same faraway figures. But I have not yet completed my research. I agree – Renoir captured the elegance and sophistication of an ancient city. The colours appeared to soaked in sunshine. So glad you joined the travels with artists. Hugs

    1. Clanmother

      So do I, Cindy. The idea that there is more to learn is a great motivator, a wonderful feeling that we are an active participant in a larger narrative of human history. The discovery that Renoir could have been a singer was new to me. I always associated him with a paintbrush in hand, rather than a musical score. A reminder to me that we have many avenues to pursue in our lives, that we must be flexible, for life does unfold in serendipitous ways.

  3. judilyn

    We have a print of “Luncheon of the Boating Party” writ large on our dining room wall. Did you ever notice that it seems that no two people are actually looking at each other?

    I frequently challenge visitors to guess how many people are in the picture – without counting. They never guess as high as fourteen.

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    1. Clanmother

      I just counted the people included in “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” I had to look closely for the last two in the background. I can see why they never guess that the number is 14. And yes, not two people actually seem to be looking at each other. You have given me another mystery to investigate. Virtual hugs coming back you way. https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Luncheon_of_the_Boating_Party_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#mw-jump-to-license

    1. Clanmother

      I agree, Enzo! When I first “Googled” with the question “who painted in Venice” – I was amazed by how many artists left their comfort zones (ie Claude Monet left his beloved Giverny to travel to Venice) and travelled abroad. Perhaps it is the restlessness in all of us that pushes us to explore what is over the next hill. Thank you for you visit and comments. The adventures continue…

      1. Enzo Martinelli

        Venice is one of these very special places that exert an irresistible charme even simply looking around you while on a ferry on the Canal Grande or strolling thorugh the narrow streets filled with tourists. Beautiful views and sources of artistic inspiration are all around you, possibly even in overwealming quantities. A constant stimulation of the senses, a journey through a spendid past contrasting with a decadent but still captivating present. The perfect environment for any artistic and creative soul to thrive in.

      2. Clanmother

        I agree, Enzo. There are millions of people that travel to Venice, and yet it seemed that Venice welcomed me as a valued friend, inviting me to explore the streets. By the end of the visit, I left with a renewed vibrancy and zest for life.

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