Renoir's family is important not only for personal reasons, but because they ineviavly affect an artist's outlook, mood, and hapiness. And also Renoir used them in many of his paintings. His wide Aline was his favorite female model and famously appears in ""Lucheon of the Boating Party". Their first son Pierre was not a focus of Renoir's work. His middle son Jean appears in quite a number of his paintings. And his nephew Edmond was also another important model. It is not always clear, however, who the models were in his portraits. Renoir more than any other impressionist artist focused on his children and other child models. Monet used his children for models, but they were usually adornments in garden or landscape scenes. Renoir on the other hand painted large numbers of paintings of these children as central figures.
Renoir liked to use his friends sit as models. He commonly posed outdoors in situations where they could enjoy themselves and have a good time. Friends frequently visited the Maison Fournaise. Here they could rent row boats, have a meal, and even spend the night. He asked some friends to have a party on a boat so he could paint them (1880). Aline Charigot came along and this where Renoir met her. It was also Aline's first modeling experience. Renoir titled the painting "Lucheon of the Boating Party". It was a signal event in Renoir's life. Not only is the work one of his masterpieces, but he was enamored with Aline. The woman holding the dog is Aline. She became his favorite model. The two fell in love. Several years after Pierre was born they married (1890).
Renoir excelled in rendering the artlessness, freshness, and awkwardness of children. Renoir had three sons which came at rather wide intervals. He especially loved to paint his sons when they were young. He painted his own sons on numerous occasions, such as the attached portrait of Jean Renoir at about 5-6 years of age).
I do not know of many major portraits featuring Pierre. I am not sure why. Perhaps Renoir's focus was not on children at this stage of his career. Pierre is seen in a sailor suit in the family part portrait (figure 1).
His second son Jean, born in 1894, seems to hold pride of place among all his youthful models. With no other model did Renoir take such pleasure in observing the eyes and laughter of a little child as it gradually discovers life. Indeed as we look at the many portraits of the boy we almost feel that we are watching him grow. First we see him as a chubby-cheeked baby in the arms of his nurse Gabrielle.
Later we find him sewing, learning the alphabet, playing with his hoop. As Jean grew older his father took more and more interest in rendering his attentive gaze and recording his awakening intelligence. It is interesting to note in the portraits painted by his father little Jean very often looks like a girl. Renoir was fascinated by the freshness and bloom of a young complexion and was always ready to discover the woman in the child. Thus in this pastel, he amused himself by portraying his son with long locks reaching to his shoulders and clutching with clumsy hands a large flower-decked hat which keeps falling off his knees. Jean as an adult became a celebrated movie director.
There appear to be fewer paintings of Claude. I am not sure why. We do know that Renoir began to suffer the effects of rheumatism in the 1890s. This was part of the reason he moved to warmer, southern France. The rheumatism was becoming increasingly severe in the 1900s. He continued painting, but may have found it more difficult to work with a young child. Perhaps the most famous portrait of Claude is as a clown in 1909. The rheumatism eventually crippled him and by 1912, the great artist was confined to a wheelchair.
Renoir also painted his nephews.
Eugène was born in Russia (1863). As far as I know. Renoir did not paint him as a child. Renoir's son Jean recalled him with some fondness, essentially as an older broither. He describes Eugène as having an imperturbable, eccentric nature and having a self-assurance and quiet strength. The family liked the young man a great deal. [J. Renoir, pp. 275-278.] Renoir conveys this affection in his portraits.
Edmond Renoir Jr. was the son of Pierre Auguste's younger brother, Edmond Sr. Edmond
like Renoir's own boys had long hair. So contrary to what quoted sources say, the fashion for long hair was NOT the artist's sole passion. The photographic record shws that it was not at all uncommon for French boys from fashionable families to have long hair in the late-29th abd early-20th century. Edmond Jr must have been a similar age to Pierre. His hair is at least as long as that or Jean's and Claude's I have several pictures attributed to be those of Edmond and Claude. The confusing thing is, they are painted in almost similar poses and wearing a similar outfit.
Renoir, Jean. Renoir, My Father (Boston, 1964,).
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