Renoir: The Artist Who Loved Women
The fashionable woman in “La Loge” is Nini Lopez, who was an actress from Montmartre and known as “fish face.” Renoir met her when he moved to Montmartre for the summer to paint “Bal du moulin de la Galette” and painted her frequently between 1876 and 1879.
Renoir, who is perhaps the most beloved of the Impressionists, was a figure painter, not a landscapist, at heart; most of his most important paintings feature women. While Monet was painting the interplay of light on haystacks, poplars and cathedrals, and Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro were dappling color on Norman landscapes and Parisian vistas, Renoir was painting the beautiful women he loved, both as models and in real life as well.
Renoir’s first important model, muse, and lover was Lise Trehot, who met Renoir when she was 16 and he was 24. With her large dark eyes and thick, cascading dark hair, she modeled for him from 1865 until 1872 and he painted her nearly two dozen times.
The enchanting girl dancing in “Bal du moulin de la Galette “(1876) is Marguerite Legrand. Marguerite, who was known as Margot, was one of Renoir’s favorite models from 1875 until 1879, when she died tragically of typhoid fever, leaving him distraught and temporarily unable to paint.
Jeanne Samary, a prominent actress from a theatrical family, met Renoir in 1877 and for several years she was both his model and his lover. Jeanne eventually married and had children but she too died of typhoid when she was only 33.
Jeanne Samary once said “Renoir … marries all the women he paints … but with his brush.”
To learn more about Renoir and his beloved models, do not forget to pick up Museyon Guide: Art+Paris Impressionists & Post Impressionists.