Working alongside Claude Monet, Renoir was essential to developing Impressionist style in the late 1860s, but there is a decidedly human element to his work that sets him apart. Renoir had a brilliant eye for both intimate domesticity and the day's fashions, and his images of content families and well-dressed Parisian pleasure seekers created a bridge from Impressionism's more experimental aims to a modern, middle-class art public.
Renoir was the first Impressionist to perceive the potential limitations of an art based primarily on optical sensation and light effects. Though his discoveries in this field would always remain integral to his art, he reasserted the necessity of composition and underlying structure in modern painting, achieving in his mature work a structured, monumental style that acknowledged the strengths of High Renaissance art.
Renoir's example became indispensible for the major French movements of high modernism: Fauvism and Cubism. Like Renoir, the progenitors of these styles focused on issues of color, composition, and depth rather than quick sketches of individual moments. His composed, vivid paintings created a vital bridge from earlier colorists like Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Antoine Watteau, and Eugène Delacroix to the twentieth-century giants Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso.
Renoir discovered, that the lithographic technique is offering the possibility to spread his work amongst the upcoming middle class in Paris by that time. Since Toulouse-Lautrec it had been in fashion as well to create graphics from the stone. Renoir had been modern enough to follow this development, being aware that impressionism and litho-stones are opposites. Therefore he created in total 34 lithographs. The complete oeuvre of his lithographic work is shown in this exhibition.