February 25, 2013 - Happy Birthday, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Renoir is one of the most famous painters of all time. He helped to establish the movement known as Impressionism—a movement in which painters didn't use their careful and precise brush strokes to exactly copy reality, but instead used looser, more visible brush strokes to convey movement and emotion. Artists began to show their own personal impressions of reality.

Renoir's paintings include many happy scenes such as people dancing or rowing on a lake or dining and laughing together.

It's amazing to think that we might not have these happy, light-filled paintings if Renoir hadn't hidden a man running away from the police!

You see, during Renoir's early years, a man named Raoul Rigault was running away from the police. Renoir saved the man from arrest by hiding him.

Later, in 1871, a group of Communists and anarchists had gained control of Paris's government. Raoul Rigault, who had once run and hid from the police, became a head of the “police” under this Commune government.

One day in 1871 Renoir was peacefully painting a scene by the Seine River, when suddenly he was seized by members of the Commune. Apparently these fellows thought Renoir must be a spy. They quickly decided to kill Renoir and throw his body into the river. Lucky for all of us, that's when Rigault showed up.

Rigaut recognized in Renoir, not a famous painter (because he wasn't yet famous), but his savior from years before. Rigualt returned the favor and saved Renoir's life.

Celebrate Renoir!

Fun Learning Activities for Children has a page about Renoir. 

Livingston-dot-org has coloring pages emulating works by many artists, including Renoir. 

And Art Makes Kids Smart has a suggestion for creating impressionistic landscapes using markers. Great idea! 

Garden of Praise offers a short bio of Renoir along with puzzles and other activities.

Jigzone offers online jigsaw puzzles, including a puzzle made from a picture by Renoir.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of first black U.S. Senator sworn in

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