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La belle vie - Impressionism’s most joyful paintings

La belle vie

Impressionism’s most joyful paintings


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Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) is universally acclaimed and celebrated: museums pride themselves on his paintings, crowds flock to his retrospectives. His work shows art at its most light-hearted, sensual and luminous. Renoir never wanted anything ugly in his paintings, nor any dramatic action. “I like pictures which make me want to wander through them when it’s a landscape,” he said, “or pass my hand over breast or back if it’s a woman.” Renoir’s entire oeuvre is dominated by the depiction of women—again and again he painted “these faunesses with their pouting lips” (Mallarmé) and invented a new image of feminine beauty and sensuality. A prolific painter—he made several thousand works in his lifetime—he is perhaps the most beloved of the Impressionists.