Renoir and the happy profession of painting
Pierre-August Renoir, only August for his mother because Pierre Renoir has too many “r's”, the town of porcelain was born in 1841 in Limoges. The modest but hardworking family moved to Paris when August was only 3 years old.
Little Renoir lived a happy and carefree childhood. When he began to attend school, two remarkable talents were revealed in him. He had a melodious and gifted voice, to the point that the teachers urged the family to enroll him for free even at the Opera singing school.
On rainy days, little August used to steal his father's chalks (who was a tailor) and draw anything and everything. His drawings were so beautiful that his father, despite the prohibitive cost, bought blocks and pencils to encourage his son to become a painter and decorator of porcelain.
So the family declined the generous and rare offer of music teacher Charles Gounod to one day see their son become a painter. Little Renoir is proud and happy he went wild by cultivating his artistic talent.
At the age of thirteen he entered as an apprentice painter in a porcelain factory distinguishing himself for his floral compositions and the complexity of his creations.
Unfortunately, the factory closed and Renoir found himself out of work. He did not lose heart and made do on his own by painting fans and fabrics. In a short time he was liked and requested by everyone, because he was appreciated for his beautiful and bright subjects.
Meanwhile he did not stop studying painting and in the breaks he ran to the Louvre to absorb the best from the masterpieces on display. With the money that Renoir had saved, he also enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts and privately with the painter Gabriel Gleyre.
Renoir absorbed all the classical and academic teachings with fervor, but his touch and his stroke remained fast, lively, effervescent.
To the reproaches of the staid teacher, August replied: "If it didn't amuse me, please believe I wouldn't paint at all."
This is the keystone of Renoir's work.
Brotherly friend of Bazille, Monet etc. he was a convinced and spontaneous interpreter of impressionism. This, however, only to the extent that his "profession" as a painter coincided with this pictorial current. Renoir was totally foreign to conceptual manifestos and intellectual programs: Renoir paints.
He paints in his own way and that's enough for him.
For him, painting is a profession such as carpentry, ironworking, etc. nothing less. He called himself a "painting worker".
In times of theories, doctrines, aesthetics and metaphysics Renoir's work develops day by day exactly as a flower grows and blooms.
A poetic, if we can call it that, that starts from Renoir's intimate happiness that as a painter he wants to convey with his paintings, from the first to the last he created.
In his old age he amazed the twenties with his very acute eyesight, pointing to small birds or details of the landscape that, despite the indications, they could not see.
And when he was hit violently by rheumatoid arthritis, do you think he lost heart? He had his brushes tied to his fingers and at a good pace to "work".
After all, Renoir's lesson is that nothing can stop a painter happy to paint.