Pierre-Auguste Renoir Quotes Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Renoir held strong views that he was not afraid to unleash when the time was right. Discover our collection of Renoir uotes below, alongside opinions on his career from other leading figures.

Passion is a pre-requisite for a successful artist and Renoir firmly believed in encouraging French art to modernise and move away from the purely academic methods which he found stale.

Famous Quotes by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

About 1883 something like a break occurred in my work. I had reached the end of 'impressionism,' and I had come to realize that I did not know how to paint or draw.

An artist, under pain of oblivion, must have confidence in himself, and listen only to his real master: Nature.

Art is about emotion; if art needs to be explained it is no longer art.

Be a good craftsman; it won't stop you being a genius.

Go and see what others have produced, but never copy anything except nature. You would be trying to enter into a temperament that is not yours and nothing that you would do would have any character.

God, the king of artists, was clumsy.

I arrange my subject as I want it, then I go ahead and paint it, like a child.

If it [dabbling in art] didn't amuse me, I beg you to believe that I wouldn't do it.

If the professional schools should succeed in producing skilled workers trained in the technique of their craft, nothing could be done with them if they had no ideal.

I have arrived more definitely than any other painter during his lifetime; honours shower upon me from every side; artists pay me compliments on my work; there are many people to whom my position must seem enviable ... But I don't seem to have a single real friend!

I'm still afflicted with the malady of research. I don't like what I do, and I paint it out, and paint it out again. I hope this mania will come to an end... I'm like a child at school. The white page must always be evenly written and slap! bang! and there's a blot! I'm still blotting and I'm forty years old.

In a few generations you can breed a racehorse. The recipe for making a man like Delacroix is less well known.

I need to feel the excitement of life stirring around me, and I will always need to feel that.

I never think I have finished a nude until I think I could pinch it.

In painting, as in the other arts, there's not a single process, no matter how insignificant, which can be reasonably made into a formula.

It took me twenty years to discover painting: twenty years looking at nature, and above all, going to the Louvre.

I've known painters who never did any good work because instead of painting their models they seduced them.

I want a red to be sonorous, to sound like a bell. If it doesn't turn out that way, I add more reds and other colors until I get it.

I want my red to sing out like a bell. If it doesn't, I add reds and other colours until I get there.

Discussing Dance at Bougival

One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity.

On the whole, the modern palette is the same as the one used by the artists of Pompeii... I mean it has not been enriched. The ancients used earths, ochres, and ivory-black – you can do anything with that palette.

Paint with joy – with the same joy that you would make love to a woman.

Progress in painting, there's no such thing! ...One day I went and changed the yellow on my palette. Well, the result was, I floundered for ten years!

Religion is everywhere. It is in the mind, in the heart, in the love you put into what you do

The advantage of growing old is that you become aware of your mistakes more quickly.

The artist who uses the least of what is called imagination will be the greatest.

The ideas come afterwards, when the picture is finished.

The modern architect is, generally speaking, art's greatest enemy.

The only reward one should offer an artist is to buy his work.

The only way to understand painting is to go and look at it. And if out of a million visitors there is even one to whom art means something, that is enough to justify museums.

There is something in painting which cannot be explained, and that something is essential.

The work of art must seize upon you, wrap you up in itself and carry you away. It is the means by which the artist conveys his passion. It is the current which he puts forth which sweeps you along in his passion.

They tell you that a tree is only a combination of chemical elements. I prefer to believe that God created it, and that it is inhabited by a nymph.

With a limited palette, the older painters could do just as well as today... what they did was sounder.

With all their damned talk of modern painting, I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colours is black!

Without him I would have given up.

Describing Claude Monet

White does not exist in nature.

Work lovingly done is the secret of all order and all happiness.

Why should beauty be suspect?

Why shouldn't art be pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world.

With all their damned talk of modern painting, I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colours is black!

Quotes about Pierre-Auguste Renoir by Fellow Artists and Art Critics

Exhibited at four of the Impressionist exhibitions 1874-82, and had his first one-man exhibition at La Vie Moderne, Paris, in 1879. After visiting Italy in 1881, where he was impressed by Raphael and Pompeian frescoes, and later working with Cézanne in Provence, turned away from Impressionism and adopted a more precise style of drawing related to Ingres and Boucher.

Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists,

Famed for his sensual nudes and charming scenes of pretty women, Auguste Renoir was a far more complex and thoughtful painter than generally assumed. He was a founding member of the Impressionist movement, nevertheless he ceased to exhibit with the group after 1877. From the 1880s until well into the twentieth century, he developed a monumental, classically inspired style that influenced such avant-garde giants as Pablo Picasso.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Initially a porcelain painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir met Claude Monet (1840-1926), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) and Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870) at the studio of painter Charles Gleyre (1806-1874), and painted outdoors with them in the suburbs of Paris. Then began “the years of combat” for these artists who struggled to establish themselves at the official painting Salon. Renoir finally exhibited there in 1864, and subsequently took part in the first two Impressionist exhibitions in 1874 and 1876, with subjects taken from contemporary life. He finally achieved success at the 1879 Salon, gradually moving away from the Impressionist movement.

Musée de L'Orangerie

Renoir's example became indispensable for the major French movements of high modernism: Fauvism and Cubism. Like Renoir, the progenitors of these styles focused on issues of color, composition, and depth rather than quick sketches of individual moments. His composed, vivid paintings created a vital bridge from earlier colorists like Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Antoine Watteau, and Eugène Delacroix to the 20th-century giants Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.