Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age

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9780300071337: Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age

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in this volume and offers new information on the families and subsequent careers of Renoir's subjects, drawing on unpublished sources in Parisian and provincial archives and on material discovered in the collections of subjects' descendants. Previously unpublished photographs of Renoir's models are also included, underscoring the high degree of authenticity and fidelity to .appearances that is the hallmark of Renoir's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.

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Review:

The pleasure Bailey obviously takes in setting out in detail the life stories of Renoir's subjects--we learn of Mlle. Legrand's two marriages, her children, her jobs, etc.--reveals him as a traditionalist who believes that facts count. The reader will find no signs of the current preoccupation with "theory" (and, blessedly, none of its jargon), and little in the way of psychological or social interpretation. Bailey assumes that the more we know about Renoir's sitters the more we will understand his pictures; but he often fails even to try to relate this information to any perception of Renoir's brushwork, color, and composition. In most entries, it is true, the attentive reader will find evocative and gracefully written descriptive passages.... -- The New York Review of Books, Robert L. Herbert

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Bailey, Mr. Colin B.
Published by Yale University Press 1997-06-25 (1997)
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