This book shows Auguste Renoir in an entirely new light, revealing an artist far more complex and thoughtful than previously believed. Seven unknown and unpublished texts written by Renoir, along with four other writings once published but now largely forgotten, are presented here in both French and English. They identify Renoir as an impassioned critic of architecture, architectural decoration, and the education of artists.
These surprising texts were written in 1883-84, when Renoir hoped to found an exhibition society grouping all the crafts, and around 1910, when he prepared several drafts of a preface to a French translation of Cennino Cennini's medieval treatise on the arts. Robert L. Herbert has uncovered Renoir's "Grammar of Art," long believed lost, and has disproved the idea that his reading of Cennini was related to his trip to Italy in 1881. Renoir provides a walking tour of Paris with abundant references to specific buildings exhibiting the Second Empire architecture he found so despicable. He examines academic art, modern industry, and how together they undermine the values of craft and individuality. And he insists that good art like nature never achieves perfect geometry or symmetry but is unregimented, "natural." Herbert discusses Renoir's aesthetic in the context of the flow of ideas on the decorative arts at the time and reassesses the artist in the light of these lively rediscovered writings. 14 b-w + 18 color illus.