Date of Degree
MA (Master of Arts)
In the first chapter I will discuss Renoir's involvement with the Goncourt brothers and his close interest in the themes of the Rococo. I will show how his connection with the Rococo surpasses superficial imitation and brings Renoir into direct dialogue with eighteenth-century ideas and motifs. In the second chapter I will explore the ideas about women that arose in the eighteenth century as seen in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and how Renoir puts them to use in his paintings of his wife, Aline. I will discuss Renoir's dialogue with Rousseau's natural roles for women, especially the practice of breastfeeding. In the last chapter, we will look at Renoir's career as an Impressionist in Paris and his interaction with the fashion of the day. During the rise of haute couture in Paris, emerging fashion was embraced most famously by Baudelaire, who despised the idealization of nature. Here we will look at Renoir's retort to Baudelaire's ideas. I seek to show that naturalism, as understood by Rousseau, is present in various ways throughout Renoir's Impressionist period, even as financial reasons constrained the artist to represent the busy city life of Paris. In summation this thesis will analyze Renoir's depictions of women, his love of eighteenth century artists, and the ideal of the natural woman he would return to throughout his career. I seek to demonstrate that Renoir was not superficially engaged with the Rococo Revival; rather, we shall see how deeply Renoir is in debt to Rousseau's ideas and Rococo aesthetics.
Copyright 2011 Michael Traver Ridlen