Moulin de la Galette
Pierre Auguste Renoir
1876
Musee d'Orsay
Oil on Canvas

INTERPRETATION

Pierre Auguste Renoir suffered from crippling arthritis when he painted scenes such as Moulin de la Galette.  Sometimes the disease was so severe that his brushes had to be tied to his hands before he was able to paint.  Although he was commissioned to paint over 2,000 portraits in his life, there were times when he faced financial difficulties.  The established art community of the day, rejected the work of Renoir and his close friend and co-founder of Impressionism Claude Monet.  Renoir was from a lower economic group than some of the other Impressionist artists, and had worked hard as a porcelain painter and saved money to attend the fine arts school where he met his friend Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley.
He once said that, "there are enough ugly things in life.  We -perhaps he was speaking of all the Impressionists-do not have to add to them."


1.  "Moulin de la Galette," was a popular restaurant where working people, artists, and the middle class came to socialize, dance, and eat the restaurant's famous pancakes.  It is Sunday afternoon, and in France at that time, Sunday was a day to be seen.  Do you think the people in the painting are having fun?  What clues has the artist given you about the people, their lifestyle, and time period?

2.  As you look at the people, imagine what their jobs might have been.

3.  Would you feel comfortable in this place?  Why or Why Not?  Do the characters or stars of the painting seem to invite us in?  How?
Does Renoir create a opening for us (the viewer) to enter the painting?

4.  What do you know about the personality of Renoir from this painting?

5.  Would you like to live in this time period?  Why?  Why Not?

6.  The Impressionist were interested in depicting moments in time-transitions of time-similiar to what a photograph captures.  How does this painting appear to be similar to a photograph of the event, how is it different?

7.  Renoir was also interested in studying the effects of light on color, and the other elements of composition.  What might  we learn about those studies through this painting?

8.  For Renoir, life was a celebration, to be enjoyed on a moment to moment basis.  As you look at this painting, what do you believe Renoir enjoyed and valued in his life?

For each person that looks at this painting, it will mean something different.  Just as each artist is unique, every viewer has their own experiences, background and perceptions that influence their understanding and meaning of a work of art.  It is especially interesting to share you viewpoints and ideas about this painting with others in the class.  Each person brings their own insights that contribute to the enjoyment and meaning of the works of art.

Student Worksheet
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