The Renoir Museum in Cagnes-sur-Mer
Today, you can experience the authentic house on the plot that Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) bought in 1907. Here he hired Nice architect, Jules Febvre, to build a large residence, which today houses his museum.
The home appears as when Renoir lived there, and includes a living room, dining room and studio with easels and brushes, as well as 15 original paintings by Renoir.
Renoir moves to Cagnes in 1903
Auguste Renoir’s southern French period started in Cagnes at the Hotel Savournin, close to the current Place de Gaulle. He later moved to the post office, which today is the Hotel de Ville.
He roamed the area looking for motifs when he discovered the Domaine des Collettesarea, a small farm planted with ancient olive trees, pines and orange trees. Here he found peace and inspiration for his subjects, and then bought the land in 1907. Renoir created there Les Grandes Baigneuses, which is now on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris to the Renoir Museum.
Set on the eight-hectare site on the hillside, outside the old town, the property offers enchanting panoramic views of the area to the medieval town of Haut-de-Cagnes.
The Renoir collection at the museum
The fifteen paintings by Renoir presented in the house give an overview of all the themes the painter liked: the nude image (Les Cariatides, Les Grandes Baigneuses), the portrait (Coco lisant, Madame Pichon), the landscape, especially illustrated by three images of Collettes’ garden or the surrounding landscape (La Ferme, Paysage aux Collettes, La vallée de la Cagne and Le baou de Saint Jeannet).
The collection has also been enriched with paintings by other painters. Not least Albert André, who often visited Renoir at Le Domaine des Collettes.
Renoir started his career at 13
Renoir showed off his artistic talents at a young age. From the age of 13 to 18, he painted porcelain in a porcelain factory, and for that work he succeeded so well that he could immerse himself in painting.
In 1862, at the age of 21, he travelled to Paris to study art. He became a student of Charles Gleyre, but more importantly, he met Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, with whom he became very good friends.
In 1864 he exhibited works at the Salon de Paris, but his works did not receive much attention for the next ten years. The main reason for this is probably due to the international unrest and the shortage of money caused by the Franco-Prussian war.
Later, in 1871, Renoir often painted on the banks of the Seine and in the forest at Fontainebleau, with his new Parisian friends.
Renoir became world famous
He experienced his first artistic success in 1874 at the first Impressionist exhibition, held in Paris, and later in London that year.
In 1881 Renoir began his world tours. First he traveled to Italy to see the works of the Renaissance masters and later to Algeria, where he followed in the footsteps of Eugene Delacroix.
It was on this journey that he became seriously ill with pneumonia, which permanently damaged his respiratory system. This was one of the reasons why he then headed for the milder climate of the Côte- d’Azur and, eventually, ended up settling in Cagnes.
His final year in Cagnes
In the later years of his life, Renoir was very plagued by severe rheumatoid arthritis. The chronic illness forced him to sit in a wheelchair, but this did not stop him from painting. His arthritis eventually became so bad that his hands and shoulders were permanently deformed, which required him to change his painting technique in order to still paint.
A painting of BERT hanging in Renoir’s house clearly shows how hard Renoir was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis in his hands.
Before his death in 1919, Renoir traveled to the Louvre to see his own paintings hanging in the world-famous museum, along with the works of all the other great masters. He was a prolific artist who created several thousand works of art in his lifetime. Here among some of the best-known paintings in the art world.
Renoir family timeline
See the Renoir family timeline here: Renoir family 1841 to 1960
By Tommy Sverre & M. Mortensen 2022