Renoir: An Intimate Biography
by Barbara Ehrlich White
Thames & Hudson
Release Date: November 7, 2017
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Few people currently living would seem better suited to writing an exhaustive biography of Pierre Auguste Renoir than Barbara Ehrlich White. She has spent more than half a century studying this prolific and maddeningly complex artist.
Her first book on Renoir (“Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters“) was published in 1984 and she maintains an enormous collection of his letters and other writings. She is currently Adjunct Professor Emeritus of Art History at Tufts University and in 2014 the French government awarded her Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of Art and Literature).
Although her writing style is described as somewhat dry, it is doubtful anyone will ever write a biography of Renoir that brings the reader so close to this man’s life or inner self.
Third-party reviews and links:
- The Wall Street Journal (Maxwell Carter) review dated Dec 1, 2017
- Financial Times (Jackie Wullschlager) review dated Oct 6, 2017
- The Christian Science Monitor (Steve Donoghue) review dated Dec 28, 2017
- The New York Review of Books (Jed Perl) review dated Dec 21, 2017
- The (UK) Spectator (Honor Clerk) review dated Oct 7, 2017
- Kirkus review dated July 17, 2017
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From the publisher:
“Expertly researched and beautifully written by the world’s leading authority on Auguste Renoir’s life and work, Renoir fully reveals this most intriguing of Impressionist artists. The narrative is interspersed with more than 1,100 extracts from letters by, to, and about Renoir, 452 of which come from unpublished letters. Renoir became hugely popular despite great obstacles: thirty years of poverty followed by thirty years of progressive paralysis of his fingers. Despite these hardships, much of his work is optimistic, even joyful. Close friends who contributed money, contacts, and companionship enabled him to overcome these challenges to create more than 4,000 paintings. Renoir had intimate relationships with fellow artists (Caillebotte, Cézanne, Monet, and Morisot), with his dealers (Durand-Ruel, Bernheim, and Vollard) and with his models (Lise, Aline, Gabrielle, and Dédée). Barbara Ehrlich White’s lifetime of research informs this fascinating biography that challenges common misconceptions surrounding Renoir’s reputation.
Since 1961 White has studied more than 3,000 letters relating to Renoir and gained unique insight into his personality and character. Renoir provides an unparalleled and intimate portrait of this complex artist through images of his own iconic paintings, his own words, and the words of his contemporaries.
“Barbara White is a biographer of courage, seriousness and unrelenting honesty. She has read and dissected about 3,000 letters about Renoir written by him, his friends, his family, as well as the newspapers of the day. Practically every member of the Renoir family has entrusted their personal documents to her – a pledge of trust totally deserved. Whenever I am asked a question about Auguste, I write to Barbara to ask her opinion or call on her knowledge, since she has become an indisputable reference for me. She is always careful and verifies facts and contexts by every route possible. The Renoir family, and Auguste himself, are very lucky that Barbara is so passionate about her subject, and I feel personally lucky to know her. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for this work of a lifetime – a magnificent success. I am very pleased that her book has been edited by the quality editors at Thames & Hudson, as it will remain a point of reference for many generations to come.” – Sophie Renoir (great-granddaughter of Auguste Renoir, granddaughter of his eldest son Pierre, and daughter of Renoir’s grandson Claude Renoir, Jr.), June 7, 2017″