The great impressionist Renoir was at the heart of the democracy of fashion in the 1870s and 1880s. The period after the fall of the Second Empire in France saw huge developments in the fashion industry, not just in haute couture, but also in the greater availability of ready-to-wear clothes and in the emergence of Paris’s shopping culture. More people than ever before expressed an interest in fashion trends, a phenomenon that was reflected in contemporary art and literature. This lecture explores some of the ways in which Renoir depicted fashion and fabrics in his paintings."
Professor Aileen Ribeiro
Aileen Ribeiro read history at King's College, University of London and received an MA (1971) and Ph.D (1975) in the History of Dress from The Courtauld Institute of Art. She has been a lecturer in the History of Dress Section since 1973 and professor in the History of Art since 2000. She has written many books and articles on the history of dress, and the most recent book is Fashion and Fiction. Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England (Yale: 2005). In addition, she has been a costume consultant to major portrait exhibitions in the UK and US, most recently Whistler, Women and Fashion at the Frick Collection, New York (2003).
Aileen Ribeiro is governor of the Pasold Research Fund, which promotes the study of textile history, and is a member of the Advisory Council of Sotheby's Institute of Art.
Her most recent book is Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art, Yale (2011).
Aileen Ribeiro, professor of History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art, discusses Renoir's portrayal of French fashion in his painting. Ribeiro talks about Renoir's struggle to represent formal dress in a compelling fashion.
(born Feb. 25, 1841, Limoges, Francedied Dec. 3, 1919, Cagnes) French painter. His father, a tailor in Limoges, moved with his large family to Paris in 1844. Renoir began working as a decorator of porcelain at 13 and studied painting at night. He formed a close friendship with his fellow student Claude Monet and became a leading member of the Paris Impressionists. His early works were typically Impressionist snapshots of real life, full of sparkling colour and light. By using small, multicoloured strokes, Renoir evoked the vibration of the atmosphere, the sparkling effect of foliage, and especially the luminosity of a young woman's skin in the outdoors. Because of his fascination with the human figure, he was distinctive among the others, who were more interested in landscape. Among his early masterpieces are Le Moulin de la Galette (1876) and The Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881). A visit to Italy (188182) introduced him to Raphael and the expressive force of clear line and smooth painting, and by the mid 1880s he had broken with Impressionism to employ a more disciplined, formal technique. In works such as Bathers (188487), he emphasized volume, form, contours, and line. In his later works, he departed from the strict rules of Classicism to paint colourful still lifes, portraits, nudes, and landscapes of southern France, where he settled in 1907. Rheumatism confined him to a wheelchair by 1912 but he never ceased to paint, even though often with his brush attached to his hand. The filmmaker Jean Renoir was his son.