Pierre-Auguste Renoir was the last of the Impressionists to be drawn into printmaking. Though he was extremely skilled as an etcher, he primarily concentrated on his painting. Thus, most of the etchings we have from him were executed for friends and colleagues or for book frontispieces and illustrations. Although they are limited, Renoir’s prints posses such merit, that it is truly a cause for regret that the artist did not produce a greater number of them.
Renoir was not particularly theoretical when executing his prints. As an artist, he simply chose to represent what he loved. His work is sensual, but always charming and never threatening. Théodore Duret, an authority on the origins of the Impressionist movement wrote that, “Instead of contriving like Toulouse-Lautrec, Seurat, or Degas to find a singular point of view or unexpected lighting, Renoir wanted to see and love only what everyone, or almost everyone, sees and loves: a woman, a tree, flowers, childhood, water…”
Renoir’s women are supple and soft, and though their images are rendered in black and white, he is still able to capture the lustrous quality their skin. There is a lyrical quality to Renoir’s prints, and he is unsurpassed in representing a woman’s grace and physical beauty.