Arts Everyday Living: Happy 183rd Birthday, Renoir! The Connoisseur of Impressionist Color

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Young Woman Sewing, 1879, oil on canvas, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, Art Institue of Chicago, Illinois

Title: Young Woman Sewing, 1879

Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)



Renoir, who would have been 183 years old today, was truly the connoisseur of color, following in the tradition of his artistic forebears including Titian and Rubens. In Young Woman Sewing above, he utilizes an unforgettable combination of purple (or is it closer to lavender?), mixed with variations of red, blue, and pink that resonate throughout the painting. Notice how even the background is a work of art in itself. Have you ever seen such an extraordinary wall, perhaps a creation of Renoir’s imagination? While the flowers bloom with a radiant beauty, expressing Renoir’s love of nature, impacting both our minds and emotions.

The model, too, was probably a source of inspiration, likely his future wife, Aline.  Soon to be a central subject of his masterpiece Luncheon of the Boating Party, where she is enjoying a meal with other companions at a popular restaurant along the Seine. However, this time she is engaged in sewing, a favorite theme of Renoir, representing his family heritage for his father was a tailor, his mother a seamstress.





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