The joy that permeates Renoir's paintings was created by a complicated person. Even close friends and family members were often baffled by the multi-faceted and contradictory artist. Having known Renoir for over twenty years, Camille Pissarro complained in a letter to his son Lucien: `Nor can I understand Renoir's mind - but who can fathom the most changeable of men?'
Here, the world's leading authority on the life and work of Auguste Renoir presents an intimate biography of this great Impressionist artist. Her narrative is interspersed with over a thousand extracts from letters by, to, and about Renoir, of which 452 come from unpublished letters. Through these words, the reader gains direct contact with Renoir, as an artist, friend and father. Renoir became hugely popular despite great obstacles: thirty years of poverty followed by thirty years of progressive paralysis of his fingers. Close friendships with scores of people who helped him with money, contacts and companionship enabled him to overcome these challenges to create more than 4,000 optimistic, life-affirming paintings. Barbara Ehrlich White brings a lifetime of research to bear in her biography to provide an unparalleled and intimate portrait of this complex artist.
Barbara Ehrlich White is Adjunct Professor Emerita of Art History, Tufts University, Massachusetts. Her Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters (Abrams, 1984) has sold over 125,000 copies. She is also the author of Impressionism in Perspective (Prentice-Hall, 1978) and Impressionists Side by Side (Knopf, 1996). She was encouraged to write the biography of the artist by Renoir's family, and her receipt of the prestigious French honour, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, followed recommendation by the artist's great-granddaughter, Sophie Renoir.