Renoir cultural center
In Essoyes, visitors of all ages are invited to experience something unique, filled with beauty and joy, in the village of Auguste Renoir.
An introductory walk, now completed, will take them to a permanent exhibition entitled “L’Espace des Renoir” (The Renoirs’ Area), in the Master’s original workshop, and at the Maison des Renoir since June 2017.
Visitors will be able to plunge into the universe of this famous family of artists, by exploring their favourite places and themes.
They will step into the circle of an extraordinary family... Pierre-Auguste and his wife, Aline, as well as their nanny Gabrielle (the latter two both born in Essoyes), surrounded by their children and their numerous friends: painters, filmmakers, sculptors, ceramicists or actors.
Family photographs, reproductions of paintings and excerpts from the films of Jean Renoir, the family's famous filmmaker son, punctuate the visit.
The introductory tour starts from the permanent exhibition at the Espace des Renoir, in the town square. The 10-minute walk takes visitors through the village streets to the welcome pavilion, then across the gardens to the family home and the painter’s workshop.
From the workshop, it is a 3-minute walk to the cemetery where Pierre-Auguste Renoir the painter, his wife Aline and the members of his family are buried. The location is apt for prayer and meditation. Directional signs will guide your way.
The Espace des Renoir
- Permanent exhibition hall
Visitors can stroll freely from one theme to another as if in a dancing procession: Aline as the model, Gabrielle Renard, Jean's nanny and Auguste's favourite muse, stretches of the countryside, and the universe of innocent childhood and bon viveurs.
- Screening room
A film (lasting 20 mins) about “creation for the Renoirs” explains how to view the light, the landscapes, the way of life and all the other sources of inspiration that nourished this family of artists. It highlights, not without triggering some powerful emotions, how for the Renoirs the “World was one”, streaked with colours and vibrations.
The Espace des Renoir shop carries a selection of works and products based on the life and works of Renoir.
The artist's workshop, the gardens and the family home
In the commune of Essoyes, visitors can follow the relevant signs to get to the painter’s house and Workshop. After a bucolic stroll through the streets of the village centre, where you can view reproductions of the canvasses that showed where Renoir set up his easel (the silvery glimmer of the River Ource, the church, the washhouse, etc.), you can enter the den of the artist's workspace via a reception pavilion that opens out to a “garden walk”, adjoining the workshop.
Anyone with a keen interest can stroll around, sit for a moment on a chair and enjoy the gentle calm, or even do a little sketch of the surrounding countryside whilst admiring the fruit trees, the greenery and the fragrant flowers.
A number of the artist’s works bear witness to his particular personal fascination with the colours of the landscapes that surrounded him. He liked to paint flowers: the charm of roses, the dazzling colours of tulips, the wavy shapes of anemones...still lives had never seen so much movement.
- The artist's family home
The house was bought by the couple in 1896 for the sum of 4,000 francs. To give you a rough idea, Renoir painted several versions of the same painting in 1892 entitled “Young Girls at the Piano”, one of which was purchased by the French State for the sum of 4,000 francs, almost ten years’ salary for an agricultural worker. In the latter half of his life, the painter gained recognition, and was able to live comfortably off his art.
With this purchase, the couple became homeowners for the first time, and Mrs Renoir achieved her dream of buying a pied-à-terre in the village of her birth. The house itself is composed of two winemaker's houses that were joined together following 4-5 years’ work, and comprises a ground floor with living rooms, a first floor for the family’s bedrooms and a converted loft space for the servants’ rooms. The tower was also added by the family and houses the staircase leading to the upper floors.
On the painter’s death, Pierre inherited the Essoyes residence, followed by his son Claude Jr and finally Sophie Renoir, the last of the family to own it. She sold the house to the commune of Essoyes in 2012. The house has just been awarded the "Maison des Illustres” label, or “House of the Illustrious”.
- The painter’s workshop
The workshop was a later addition, built in 1906. Initially, Renoir worked in the living room, which also served as his workshop. According to Sophie Renoir, the couple decided to buy a new plot of land, abutting the house’s garden, and to build a workshop on it, “so as not to disturb the children when they are playing”.
The Workshop is a dream location: it is a contemporary interpretation of the whirlwind of creation, a sort of flood that carried Renoir away with it, according to his close relatives. One of its most emblematic items is the wheelchair, symbolic of Renoir's courage and his total devotion to painting. Renoir accomplished many of his masterpieces here: landscapes, washerwomen and scenes of the everyday life that was so dear to him.
Upstairs, amid the laughter of children and young girls, his spirit endures, stroking the canvas with its brush. This area contains a box that the artist used to transport his paintings by train to Paris, as well as sculptures such as “La Danseuse au Tambourin”, “Le Joueur de Flûteau”, and letters from Aline.
The workshop also holds the “Maison des Illustres” label.
Contact details: “Du côté des Renoir” cultural center
Discover the region surrounding the Renoir Cultural Center
- Bar-sur-Seine : 03 25 29 94 43
- Bar-sur-Aube : 03 25 27 24 25
- Bayel : 03 25 92 42 68
- Les Riceys : 03 25 29 15 38
- Essoyes : 03 25 29 21 27
- Mussy-sur-Seine : 03 25 38 42 08