Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in Limoges and brought up in Paris, where his father, a tailor with a large family, settled in 1845. From the age of thirteen he worked as an apprentice painter, painting flowers on porcelain plates. This early apprenticeship left a certain trace on his art, which was always decorative in spite of its later realism. After machines for coloring ceramics had been introduced, he had to switch to decorating fans and screens. Having saved some money, in 1862 Renoir entered the Atelier Gleyre and there made friends with Monet, Sisley and Bazille; some time later he met Pissarro and C�zanne.
In the 1880s, he abandoned Impressionism for what is often called the "dry style". He began a search for solid form and stable composition, a search, which led him back to the masters of the Renaissance. He worked more carefully and meticulously, his colors became cooler and smoother. He later returned to hot rich colors and free brushwork of his earlier days to portray nudes in sunlight, a style, which he continued to develop to the end of his life.
In 1886, the art dealer Durand-Ruel exhibited 32 of Renoir's paintings in New York, thus opening the American market for Impressionism. In December 1888, Renoir suffered the first attacks of arthritis, which would cripple his hands; in 1898 after a serious attack of the disease his right arm was paralyzed. From now on he painted, overcoming strong pains, strapping a brush to his wrist. In 1919, not long before his death, he finished, in great pain, his large-scale composition The Great Bathers (The Nymphs).
Renoir died in Cagnes, France on December 3, 1919.