Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) worked as an apprentice painter, painting flowers on porcelain plates. Having saved some money, in 1862 Renoir entered the Atelier Gleyre and there made friends with Monet, Sisley, Bazille and later Pissarro and Cézanne. Renoir achieved recognition earlier than his friends.
In 1879-80, he sent several portraits to the official Salon, among them Portrait of the Actress Jeanne Samary and Portrait of Mme Charpentier and Her Children. In the 1880s, he abandoned Impressionism for what is often called the “dry style”. In 1886, the art dealer Durand-Ruel exhibited 32 of Renoir's paintings in New York, thus opening the American market for Impressionism. Renoir died in Cagnes on 3 December 1919 and was buried in Essoyes.
This picture painted in 1876 is an oil on canvas (65.9 x 49.8 cm.) represents Henriette Henriot, an actress at the Odéon theatre in Paris. Renoir painted several portraits of her, notably a Madame Henriot in a boy costume (below).
The picture above was sold in 1962 for £ 5,500 only and fetched £ 33,875 in a sale in Tokyo, Japan in 1969. It is now on the walls of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, a gift from the Adele R. Levy Fund.
Renoir was one of the great worshippers of the female form, and he said `I never think I have finished a nude until I think I could pinch it.' One of his sons was the celebrated film director Jean Renoir (1894-1979), who wrote a lively and touching biography (Renoir, My Father) in 1962.
Currently most Renoir's works sell in between $100,000 and $ 2 million.