Renoir's Portraits

Impressions of an Age

Colin B. Bailey; With the assistance of John B. Collins, and with essays by Colin B. Bailey, Linda Nochlin, and Anne Distel

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Of all the Impressionist artists, only Pierre Auguste Renoir earned distinction as a professional portrait painter. For more than fifty years Renoir explored the genre of portraiture, experimenting and pressing forward in his determination to become—as he explained to Monet in 1884—"a painter of figures." This sumptuously illustrated book is the first devoted exclusively to Renoir's portraiture, and in it are gathered the finest examples of the portraits he painted during each period of his prolific career. In these delightful paintings Renoir creates uniquely endearing and enduring images of pleasure, comfort, and prosperity.

In introductory essays, the authors investigate Renoir's career as a portrait painter, the importance of portraiture within the work of his fellow Impressionists, and one of Renoir's keenest collectors--a man who commissioned two portraits of his wife and was part of the milieu that sustained the artist in the middle years of his career.

In addition, Colin Bailey has reconstructed the biographies of all the figures represented in the portraits in this volume and offers new information on the families and subsequent careers of Renoir's subjects, drawing on unpublished sources in Parisian and provincial archives and on material discovered in the collections of subjects' descendants. Previously unpublished photographs of Renoir's models are also included, underscoring the high degree of authenticity and fidelity to appearances that is the hallmark of Renoir's portrait style. Renoir Portraits is not only a feast for the eye, it is sure to become the standard book on the subject for years to come.

Colin B. Bailey is chief curator of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Linda Nochlin is professor of art history at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Anne Distel is chief curator of Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

"This sumptuous book is the first devoted solely to Renoir's portraiture and in it are the finest examples from each period of his prolific career. A visual feast and sure to become the standard book on the subject."—Art Book Review Quarterly

"A visual feast and sure to become the standard book on the subject."—Art Book Review Quarterly

"This ravishing book, with its heart-stopping selection of colour plates, is the very breath of life itself to those who love fine painting, and seek it out at antiques fairs as I do myself."—Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post

"This beautiful book created for the traveling show of Renoir's portraiture may become the standard book on the subject. It is a feast for the eye and gives insight into the characters and families represented in the paintings, via material gathered from unpublished sources and archives in Paris and the provinces."—France Today

"A sensitive, diverse and rich output is handsomely put together, and genuinely does evoke the period covered by Proust's writing."—Bruce Arnold, Irish Independent

"As a founding impressionist, Renoir devoted a substantial portion of his career to portraiture. This simply exquisite exhibition catalog is the first publication to focus solely on that genre of Renoir's work that depicts his family, colleagues, friends, children, and the Parisian 'beau monde' in idealized settings."—Library Journal

"Fine introductory essays, plus a supplemental section that contains photographs of the familiar models, preparatory drawings, related works, provenance, exhibitions, and notes, make this a definitive source for scholars and a delight for lay readers. From the portraits of the sitters, the soul of an artist emerges. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"Opinion has tipped against Renoir in recent years. This beautiful book, the catalogue to an exhibition touring North America, will restore the balance."—The Guardian

"This superb book, the first to highlight his portraits, not only illustrates 70 key pictures but provides a detailed and fascinating in depth account of each, talking about both sitter and technique in equal measure. Bailey really knows his stuff and brings these paintings alive in vivid fashion."—Clare Henry, The Herald

ISBN: 9780300071337
Publication Date: June 25, 1997
Co-publisher: Published in association with the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
400 pages, 9 3/4 x 12 1/4
290 b/w + 80 color illus.

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