Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one of the leading French Impressionists, famed for his sensual depiction of the female nude. His time as a young painter in a porcelain factory informed his lifelong preference for a bright color palette. The nucleus of what would later become the Impressionist group was formed in 1862 when, having enrolled in Charles Gleyre’s studio, Renoir befriended Monet, Bazille and Sisley. Together they experimented with painting landscapes direct from nature (‘en plein air’) using broken brushstrokes. In 1869, he and Monet spent many weeks painting the popular beauty spot of La Grenouillière, resulting in arguably the first definitive demonstration of pure Impressionist technique. However, the 1880s saw Renoir move away from Impressionism towards something more historically informed and ‘monumental’. Looking first to the Renaissance, and then to ‘painterly’ old masters such as Titian and Rubens, he began to specialize in nudes that revelled in the pleasure and beauty of the female form.
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