Pierre-Auguste Renoir was known as one of the leading Impressionist painters of the 19th century.
He often used friends and family to model for his paintings. The ones that show daily life were taken from his own life with his family.
During the course of his career, he played around with different styles and techniques in his several thousand paintings.
His focus shifted from painting scenery, formal portraiture, classical style, and at one point he focused on women and nudes. The following are 10 of Renoir’s most famous paintings.
Famous Renoir Paintings
1. Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette
The Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette is easily the most famous Renoir painting.
Finished in 1876, this oil painting depicts a scene in an outdoor dance hall, Moulin de la Galette, in the Paris art district of Montmartre.
At the forefront, you can see two women speaking to two men seated at a table. Behind the pairs are people dancing, with most wearing black suits and dresses.
Though he uses blacks, there is still a lot of colors seen, especially in his portrayal of sunlight.
Renoir once said that “the queen of all colors was black.” This painting offers a glimpse into France’s life of leisure and is one of his most celebrated art pieces.
2. Luncheon of the Boating Party
This painting is set at the Maison Fournaise restaurant in Chatou where people went to rent rowboats, eat, and spend the night.
His use of the restaurant setting showcases the many different people who often gathered to share good food, drinks, and conversations with each other on a balcony overlooking the Seine.
Renoir uses eye-catching colors that set the viewers’ eyes to the many different people. This painting also focuses on three main things – portraiture, still-life, and the outdoors. It was finished in 1881.
3. The Swing
While working on the Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette, Renoir also worked on The Swing.
In this oil painting, you can see a young man, with his back shown, speaking to a young lady standing on a swing.
Watching the two are a little girl and a man leaning against a tree. There’s another group of people in the background, but just an outline of their figures are seen.
It appears to be a snapshot of a conversation between the two people that the viewers are spying upon. The scene is set in the gardens now known as Musee de Montmartre.
Renoir uses interesting effects to showcase the sunlight appearing through the foliage. He showed this art at the 3rd Impressionist Exhibition in 1877.
4. Dance at Bougival
Set in an open-air cafe in Bougival, a city outside of Paris, this painting captures a dance between a man and a woman.
The woman wears a red hat and pink dress and has her head slightly turned. The man is wearing a straw hat covering the top of his face and a blue suit.
Behind the couple are people sitting at tables and talking.
One of many dance paintings by Renoir, this one was finished in the spring of 1883, shows a shift in style for Renoir.
The figures have the softness and ease of an Impressionism painting but with an emphasis on the forms and outlines of his subjects.
5. Two Sisters
Two Sisters is a painting of an older girl sitting with her younger sister.
The older girl wears a red hat and blue jacket while the younger one wears a flower crown. Both are sitting on a terrace overlooking the river with a basket of flowers.
Also Read: Paintings of Two Sisters
The terrace is part of the Maison Fournaise, a restaurant on an island in the Seine, and is also the setting for Luncheon of the Boating Party.
As in other Renoir paintings, the background is blurred, with the foliage blending into the water, and seeing only glimpses of the scenery beyond. It was presented at the 7th Impressionist Exhibition in the spring of 1882.
6. La Grenouillère
La Grenouillere means the frog pond and was a cafe and bathing place on the Seine.
Renoir painted this masterpiece alongside Monet in 1869. While Monet’s painting showcases the landscape, Renoir concentrates on the people who sit on and bathe near the round islet known as the flowerpot.
He is able to capture life as a fleeting moment, as people sit and converse, swim, row, or sail. There’s even a dog napping on the islet.
Renoir is able to show an emphasis on the figures using the blues and greens of the water and trees as the background.
7. Two Young Girls at the Piano
In late 1891, Renoir was asked by the French government to paint for a new museum in Paris, Musee de Luxembourg, that would be showcasing the work of living artists.
Knowing that this painting would be under scrutiny, he took extreme care with this piece, developing and refining it until it was to his liking.
He chose two girls sitting at a piano to show the domestic life of the bourgeois.
Sitting at the piano is a young blonde girl wearing a white dress, while another young girl, a brunette wearing a pink dress, overlooks the sheet music standing behind the blonde’s shoulders.
8. The Large Bathers
This painting is of ladies’ bathing. There are two women close to the water, while one is in the water facing the two.
The woman in the water appears to be ready to splash one of the women, who reclines back with her hands up to avoid the playful splash. Renoir took great care in sculpting the women and positioning them in a way to avoid certain body parts.
You can see two other women bathing in the background. It took Renoir three years, from 1884-1887, to finish The Large Bathers.
It showcased a new style, and Renoir received criticism for it, so he never took that much time on any painting again.
9. Reclining Nude
This style of painting is similar to many others that Auguste Renoir has painted during his phase of painting nudes.
In this painting, he showcases a young woman relaxing on a bed of foliage that follows the flows and contours of her body.
He creates a rhythm of harmony from the curves of her body to the nature around her. The ruddy background colors make way for the white cloth in contrast with the woman’s flesh.
This graceful figure of a full-bodied woman became a sort of trademark for Renoir that he uses in other paintings.
This painting represents all that Renoir has learned throughout the years.
He uses the color of an Impressionist, the clarity and simplicity of a fresco, the playful grace of his 18th-century predecessors, and drew from the works of Raphael and Ingres.
There are two women placed prominently in the front, while three other women bathe in the background. The foliage is blurred and blends into the water.
His take on the women shows their natural allure and presents a similar taste and style as he did in The Large Bathers, where he places things to avoid certain parts of the body. He created this piece between 1918 and 1919.