Arts Everyday Living: Through the Eyes of Renoir—The Glorious Color of Impressionism

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Two Sisters (On the Terrace), 1881, oil on canvas, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Larned Coburn Memorial Collection, Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois


Title: Two Sisters (On The Terrace)

Artist: Pierre August Renoir (1841-1919)


It’s a glorious day in France over a hundred and forty years ago, and we, the viewers, are actually there, warmly invited by the enchanting woman and child before us. Bright, rich colors fill the painting—extraordinary blues, greens, oranges, yellows, and more—created by the magical brush of Renoir. The red in particular strikes our eyes, vibrating in the flowers and remarkable hat. “I want my red to sound like a bell,” Renoir once wrote. Can we almost hear it?

Renoir was forty when he painted On the Terrace, just one of the thousands of works he produced  during his long career of almost 60 years. Son of a tailor and the sixth of seven children, Renoir began painting as a teenager, decorating first porcelain and then ladies’ fans. By the time he was 21, he had saved enough money to enter one of the art schools of Paris where he met another young artist, Monet.

Together, Monet and Renoir, along with other fellow artists, created a new style of art called Impressionism, often marked by vivid color, luminous light, and energetic brushstrokes. Incredibly, at first, this striking painting along with other Impressionist works was not accepted by many members of the public.





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