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 was painted in 1874 and is the very essence of Impressionism. In the 1960s, this masterpiece was in the vault of a Swiss bank : some collectors do not deserve the money they need to have to buy works like that. It has been bought by Georges Charpentier, a leading French publisher in the 1870s whose wife and children Renoir made a famous painting too (below). Charpentier was the publisher of Zola (L’Assommoir in 1877 ), Daudet, E. de Goncourt, Turgeniev, Balzac and Musset. Charpentier loved the Impressionists : in 1879 he created a magazine to promote their works, La Vie moderne (Modern Life).
Charpentier helped Renoir to secure a place at the Salon in 1878, the firts time in eight years, and in 1879 Renoir painted "Madame Charpentier et ses enfants." At the Salon in 1879, Renoir exhibited four works including the large society portrait of Madame Charpentier. The portrait was hung in a prominent place at the Salon, mainly because of the intervention and influence of Mr. Charpentier, and was critically well-received due to writing of Pissarro who related that Renoir had a ‘great success at the Salon’, and Zola. The canvas was covered with praise by the jury. Marguerite Charpentier was hostess of one of the most fashionable salon in Paris, at which Renoir was a regular guest.
The heirs of Charpentier who bought a lot of Renoir's works had settled in Costa-Rica and left the Pêcheur to live a solitary and confined life in a Swiss Bank. Eventually they removed it from its vault and put it for sale on auction : it was bought by Sir Nigel Broackes, chairman of Trafalgar House.