Long a household name, Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is considered to be one of the great nineteenth-century masters. A principal member of the Impressionist circle, Renoir made everyday life his subject matter, creating scenes and characters seemingly pulled from the quotidian world of fin-de-siècle Paris. Alongside friends and colleagues like Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Berthe Morisot, Alfred Sisley, Mary Cassatt and Gustave Caillebotte, Renoir created the visual imagery we most associate today with avant-garde Parisian art. If you think about bearded, top-hatted men dancing happily with cherubic, rose-cheeked women as classically Impressionistic, you can thank Renoir for cementing that image in your mind’s eye.
Indeed, it is Renoir who created some of our most enduring images of Parisian life, and the exhibition Renoir: Les Études offers an unusual opportunity to see this star painter’s expertise in a different mode: as a draughtsman and etcher. Usually associated with his painted work, Renoir is revealed here in a new light. This exhibition centers on the artist’s rarely-exhibited line drawings, presented in original etched, aquatint, and lithographic form. These studies of the human figure show Renoir’s deep interest in exploring modern characters - men, women, young girls, friends - and placing them into a variety of contemporary and timeless situations. With eleven studies displayed contextually in the era in which Renoir painted them, the exhibition presents an intimate experience of Renoir’s favorite themes and of the world in which he lived.