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Renoir and RA

Renoir $79 million masterpiece

Bal du Moulin de la Galette,1876, Musee d’Orsay, Paris

Bal du Moulin de la Galette sold in 1990 at Sotheby’s for $79 million.

Renoir painted this scene of popular Parisian life in 1876.   It was a typical Sunday afternoon at Moulin de la Galette in the district of Montmartre in Paris.  An impressionistic image. Vivacious and joyful in nature.   In fact, he painted not one but two of the same scene. One large and one small. Almost identical with minor differences in style. The larger of the two paintings hangs in Musee d’Orsay, which houses the largest collection of impressionist masterpieces in the world. The smaller of the two, the one sold for $79 million, is in a private collection.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir loved painting.

He started his career at the young age of 13 working in a porcelain factory. He frequently visited the Louvre to study the French masters.  He spent his lifetime studying and admiring the paintings of  the master painters.

With his factory earnings, he joined Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille and Claude Monet for classes at Charles Gleyre’s studio.     Renoir along with Pissarro, Monet, Cezanne and Edward Degas were originators of the Impressionist Movement.  In 1874, they held their  first of many Impressionist exhibitions.  It was a flop.

Fortunately for the art world they all were undeterred.

After many years of struggle, Renoir became a popular portrait painter. He was a passionate painter, always learning and evolving his art. His work was well received and he is considered one of the most influential painters of all time. Some say he has 4000 paintings to his credit. He was endlessly productive. He is one of the world’s beloved painters.

Renoir portrait

Two Sisters, 1881, Art Institute of Chicago

He was an optimist. He strove to find the positive qualities of his subjects. He was known to have said about his art “Yes, pretty! Life brings enough unpleasantness; why not approach it from the light side once in a while?”

It was about 1892 when Renoir was dealt a devastating blow.
He developed rheumatoid arthritis.
He was just over 50.

Today’s therapies were unknown.  His resources were limited.  Renoir searched out the therapies of his time. Then he adapted. He adjusted his lifestyle as his RA progressed. He moved to a warmer climate. He asked for help from his family. He continued to paint his masterpieces.

His passion was his art.      It was the focus of his attention.

His passion for painting diverted his attention from his progressing crippling disease.  He was fortunately dominated by an optimistic attitude and he adjusted to his increasing disability.

He kept on painting masterpieces as his hands became gnarled and he was no longer able to stand.  Still he cherished the beauty in the world. He loved life.

Renoir is an amazing role model for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

He employed both problem and emotional focused strategies. He was able to stay positive and productive.

  1. Renoir accepted his role limitations. He asked for help from his family.
  2. He learned to prioritize his time and to pace his activities.
  3. He traveled less and painted at a decreased speed.
  4. Painting helped him find meaning. His passion kept him motivated.
He was, in his lifetime, what we can strive to be in ours.


Fernandez, G. (n.d.). The Impressionism seen through 50 Paintings. Retrieved from The Art Wolf: http://www.theartwolf.com/articles/50-impressionist-paintings.htm

Kang, C. (n.d.). Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Retrieved from The Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org

Kowalski, E., & Chung, E. C. (2012). Impairment and Disability: Renoir’s adaptive coping stategies against rheumatoid arthritis. Hand, 7:357-363.

Pierre August Renoir. (2015). Retrieved from Bio.: Http://www.biography.com/people/pierre-auguste-renoir-20693609

Zyrianova, Y. (2012). Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Historical and Biopsychosocial Perspective.

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