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An Intimate Biography

Barbara Ehrlich White


A major new biography of this perennially popular artist by the world's foremost scholar of his life and work

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The joy that permeates Auguste Renoir’s paintings was created by a complicated person, whom even close friends and family members struggled to understand. The world’s leading authority on Renoir’s life and work here presents an intimate biography of this most intriguing of Impressionist artists in a narrative interspersed with over a thousand extracts from letters by, to and about Renoir. Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material, Barbara Ehrlich White brings us into direct contact with Renoir as an artist, friend and father, and enables us to appreciate more fully his great paintings.

It was in the face of great obstacles that Renoir became hugely popular: thirty years of poverty followed by thirty years of progressive paralysis of his fingers. Close friendship 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. The author brings a lifetime of research to bear in her biography to challenge misconceptions around Renoir’s reputation, providing an unparalleled portrait of this multi-faceted and contradictory artist through his own words and those of his friends.

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'The most personal account of any Impressionist ever written … an unmissable, revelatory account'
Financial Times

'Comprehensive … a cradle-to-grave account'
Sunday Times

'This new study has the blessing of the Renoir family. No one, not even Renoir himself, can ever have commanded so much information on the topic'
Daily Telegraph

'The leading Renoir scholar Barbara Ehrlich White has mined the artist’s voluminous correspondence to depict the man in the round'
RA Magazine

'Most artistic studies are made from the outside, looking in. This contribution to the literature of a much-observed figure provides a sense of looking outwards from the point of view of the man himself'
Art Book Review

'Renoir is brought to life through his own words and those of his friends'
Leisure Painter

'Renoir would have been grateful for the thoroughness with which his new biographer Barbara Ehrlich White has peeled away the myths and lies'

'Scholars of Renoir will be indebted to White for assembling so many new letters that shed fresh light on the tecture of Renoir’s family life, friendships and daily routines'
Literary Review

'As thorough as it is readable'
Art Newspaper

'Comprehensive and authoritative…provides an account of the artist’s life, work and impact from a contemporary and inside viewpoint. It is a compelling and engaging read'
The Artist

'Astonishingly detailed'
France Magazine

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 432 pp

Illustrations: 105

Publication date: 5 October 2017

ISBN: 9780500239575

Contents List

Maps • Introduction • 1. 1841–77 • 2. 1878–84 • 3. 1885–93 • 4. 1894–1900 • 5. 1901–09 • 6. 1910–15 • 7. 1915–19 • Afterword; Appendix: Selected Renoir Paintings Worldwide; Acknowledgments; Selected Bibliography

About the Author

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.