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Video: Pierre-Auguste Renoir at work in 1915 (rare footage)

This is rare footage of French Impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir at work, which is from Sacha Guitry’s patriotic World War I-era film Ceux de Chez Nous, “Those of our Land”. Renoir suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis during the last decades of his life. By the time this film was made in June of 1915, the 74-year-old Renoir was physically deformed and in constant pain. The painter’s 14-year-old son Claude is shown placing the brush in his father’s permanently clenched hand.

After watching this footage of Renoir, the American poet Gary Margolis wrote these lines:

After Rare Footage of Renoir, 1915
I didn’t know I could read
lips, until I stood outside
his studio. Father of clawed
hands, stained teeth.
Of paint and brush.
His son inserting the brush
in his father’s hand. Pierre-
Auguste. It looks as if he was
pecking, making peck marks
on the canvas. Between puffs.
Between saying things
to the other man—a curator,
a neighbor, a doctor who thought
he could straighten his fingers.
Whose lips I’ve come to read
long after the first war.
Renoir can’t escape. His perfect
reds. His body’s fate.
The countryside.
Those rooms of mothers and girls,
their straw hats. How I would step
inside time, if I could. If I knew enough
to read his lips, to light his cigarette
in French. To brush off the ash.

copyright 2015 Gary Margolis

9 comments on “Video: Pierre-Auguste Renoir at work in 1915 (rare footage)

  1. Vox Populi
    December 2, 2018

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth Walker
    December 2, 2018

    Please tell me who wrote the piano music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dolores Walker
    November 18, 2016

    Would love to know what the lovely piano music is

    Liked by 1 person

  4. createfree
    May 12, 2016

    Verry beautiful, certainly the guy besides him wasn’t a curator, curators is an invencion of post modern gallerists betwen the 80’s and 90’s

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luz Vega-Hidlago
    May 11, 2016

    The whole presentation is a great experience. In the midst of my daily routines this morning, watching, reading and listening, at once ,a description of Renoir, placed me at a higher level of awareness to meet the day . Every part of the presentation was special, and each part enhanced the other. The poem summed up in thought the whole experience, and it expressed in words what I was experiencing while I simultaneously watched, read, and listened about Augusta Renoir. The film is a treasure; seeing Renoir move about talking casually to another. How I wish I could see other great masters on film, like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Titian, Fra Filippo Lippi or Hieronymus Bosch. But we were born into a time where such miracles have become possible, even though it doesn’t seem like a miracle anymore.. But I loved the music in the video and that piano playing…it was out of sight/awesome…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Luz Vega-Hidlago
    May 11, 2016

    The whole presentation is a great experience. In the midst of daily routines, watching, reading and hearing at once a description of Renoir, opened up a higher level in my mind. Every part was special, and each enhanced the other. The poem was beautiful, and it expressed what I was experiencing in thought. The film is a treasure, seeing Renoir move about talking causally to another. How I wish I could see on film other great masters like Michelangelo, Leonardo, Titian or Fra Filippo Lippi. But the music, I loved the music and that piano playing…marvelous…

    Liked by 1 person

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