Art has the ability to inspire. When you think about the artist, in the countryside with a blank canvas and an easel and paint, and then you see the finished product of his labors, how can you not be inspired???
Pierre-August Renoir has always been one of my favorite French painters. Due to a non-comformist and sometimes radical style, many like Renoir were rejected by the formal French Salon (of the Impressionists, it is argued that Renoir was likely the most traditional and perhaps could have been successful taking the Salon route). Undeterred, Renoir, along with other now famous painters like Sisley, Monet, and Pissarro, decided to create their own exhibition. These painters, along with others, became closely associated with what is now called the “Impressionist” movement or Impressionist style of painting.
When I consider the impressionists, what’s interesting to me is how the “Impressionist” name came about. In 1874, thirty artists decided to create their own exhibition, and exhibit more than 160 pieces of art, not in the traditional Salon (as was custom), but instead on their own about five blocks from the Salon. This was a capitalistic endeavor. These men—and a few women—called themselves the “anonymous society of artists.” This group and their display was not government sanctioned and was not official. They were a newly formed, professional group. They paid dues. They sold catalogues to their exhibition. They heavily promoted the exhibit, and even sold the art on sight. They smartly situated their exhibition near the formal Salon, and opened their exhibition two weeks before the formal opening of the Salon. Although they called themselves the anonymous society of artists, they became known instead as the “intransigents.” This name of course suggests radicalism, although these individuals were not that politically inspired. But back to the Impressionist name, one painting presented in the first 1874 exhibition was one done by Monet. In describing that painting, a reporter noted that the painting gave a certain “impression.” The name stuck, and the entire movement and many in the group later became known not as much anymore as the intransigent movement, but instead as part of the Impressionist movement.
The gist of the Impressionist style of painting is the quick capture of a moment, emphasizing light and large brush strokes, capturing the essence or impression that the artist (and ultimately the viewer) has of that moment. Renoir was most known for painting figures. Unlike his colleague Monet, who was middle class, Renoir was born of the working class, and you can see that point of view in his paintings. Renoir started out painting ceramics, and was later known for his painting of figures—unlike Monet, who was more known for his landscapes. Renoir was what I would call a sensualist, meaning you get the sense that you can almost feel, touch, or smell his subjects. I think if you study his works and life you will fully understand why.
Here in the top of the photograph is one of my Renoir paintings of a landscape (below is one by Monet), painted in 1895. It is entitled: Arbres au Bord de L’Eau (Trees at Water’s Edge).
Tony Buzbee is a distinguished attorney in Houston, Texas. While his career keeps him busy, Buzbee is passionate about the arts and is an devoted collector of paintings and sculptures. Check out more of his art blogs or follow him on Twitter!