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~ About Renoir and Impressionism ~ Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was a French artist and a leading figure of the impressionist movement. Impressionism is characterised by open composition and visible brush strokes, ordinary themes and focus on light and movement. Renoir in particular was noted for the sensuality of his paintings, which frequently emphasised female beauty. ~ About the Author ~ Sophie Monneret is one of the most widely recognised specialists on 19th Century painting. She has taught at the École du Louvre and is the author of L'IMPRESSIONISME ET SON ÉPOQUE, which won the Prix Elie Faure and the Prix Charles Blanc at the Académie Française. ~ The Book ~ This is a large, hardback, "coffee table" type book, so called because its dimensions and emphasis on large scale images make it a highly decorative item that will look good on a table in the centre a living room. The cover features a detail of the 1881 oil painting "The Railway Bridge At Chatou", which is currently in the Musée d'Orsay, in Paris. There is an introduction that reflects on Renoir's life, artistic training and development, as well has his relationships with other artists such as Pissarro, Monet and Sisley. The book features reproductions of many of his works, as well as photographs of Renoir himself, his friends, models, and places they frequented. Also featured are examples of the work of artists Renoir admired and was inspired by. Accompanying the review of Renoir's work is his biography, full of information on his background, daily life and opinions, and including inumerous testimonials from the people who knew and worked with him. This biographical narrative adds great value to the book, as it provides the context for his works as well as insight into the stories and meaning behind each painting. Something that I specifically enjoyed learning about was the models of his paintings. Monneret provides biographical profiles on some of them, and one in particular, Lisa Tréhot, reveals just how powerfully Renoir's ability to recreate a realistic image through impressionist techniques was: There is one painting by Renoir, featuring a young girl looking straight at us. Her gaze is so earnest and intense and her face so expressive that I could vividly imagine her real, of flesh and blood. Lisa Tréhot was the model for this painting, and photographs of her show that in reality she looks nothing like the painting - that girl, that I could see so clearly in my mind, never existed. She was entirely the product of Renoir imagination. With his wife he is more accurate, and the paintings for which she posed bear a significant resemblance to her, something that is evident even in photographs taken in her old age. At the end of the book there is a black and white catalogue of 200 of Renoir's paintings, as well as a yearly timetable correlating the main events in Renoir's personal life with those in his career and in worldwide history. I have never been a particular fan of Impressionism, but found in these high quality reproductions of his paintings a beauty that I had never noticed before. This is an informative, attractive book. It is not the first of its type on Renoir, nor shall it be the last, but is the best that I have come across thus far, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Renoir's work or in impressionism in general.