Renoir & Renoir: New Barnes Foundation Exhibition Explores A Famous Father & Son Relationship

Dig deep into the personal and artistic influence of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir on his filmmaker son Jean...

As the home of the world’s largest collection of paintings (181!) by impressionist Pierre-August Renoir, few institutions are more qualified than the Barnes Foundation to host an exhibition about the famed artist.

But as the exhibit name indicates, Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema goes beyond the work of the elder Renoir to explore his relationship — both personal and artistic — with one of his sons, filmmaker Jean Renoir.


  • Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema is on view at the Barnes Foundation through September 3, 2018.
  • The exhibit examines the influence of impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir on his son, filmmaker Jean Renoir.
  • More than 120 works are on display, including paintings, film clips, ceramics, costumes and more.
  • The exhibition is free with general admission.

Exhibit-goers can explore more than 20 Pierre-Auguste paintings (including paintings of Jean Renoir as a child) and more than 20 clips from Jean Renoir films as well as ceramics, costumes, photographs, posters, books and letters.

The Barnes Foundation is the only U.S. venue for this exploration of a famous father and son, which was curated by Sylvie Patry, consulting curator at the Barnes.

The Exhibition

“I have spent my life trying to determine the extent of the influence of my father upon me,” wrote Jean Renoir. That influence was at times both overt and subtle, according to the curators of Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema.

Art figured prominently in Jean Renoir’s life from the start — Pierre-Auguste made about 60 paintings and pastels with young Jean as a subject. In these works, exhibit-goers can trace Jean’s youth through his father’s impressionist eyes. 1910’s Jean as Hunstman, featuring a teenage Jean Renoir posing as a hunter, was the only painting Jean kept for his entire life, and is featured prominently in the new exhibit.

Jean Renoir briefly sought a career as a ceramist (and the exhibit features 10 of his ceramic works), but he eventually turned to a nascent field: filmmaking.

After Pierre-Auguste’s death in 1919, the younger Renoir sold most of his father’s paintings to kickstart his filmmaking career (including selling some to Albert Barnes). Yet the exhibit curators posit that the elder Renoir’s life and works played a sizeable role in Jean’s personal and artistic life long after his father’s death.

Over a career that spanned 40 films and 45 years, Jean Renoir’s works referenced his father’s pieces and the time period in which he painted. The exhibit calls attention to the filming of Picnic on the Grass on the Renoir family property in southern France and the echo of the elder Renoir’s painting The Swing in the signature scene of Jean’s 1946 film A Day in the Country, among many others.

(Photo © Rene Burri/Magnum Photos)
More than 20 film clips from Jean Renoir (left) — including scenes from Elena and Her Men (shown), starring Ingrid Bergman (right) — are on display in the new exhibit.

Pierre-Auguste’s influence on his son went beyond art. Andree Heuschling served as the elder Renoir’s last model, prominently featured in the foreground of the famous painting The Bathers (which is on display in the exhibit). After Pierre-Auguste’s death, Heuschling and Jean married, and Heuschling (under the name Catherine Hessling) starred in a number of the younger Renoir’s early works, including 1926’s Nana.

Beyond paintings and film clips, exhibit-goers will find four costumes designed for Jean’s films (echoing color and form from Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s paintings), movie posters from Jean’s films (including four from Martin Scorsese’s personal collection) and correspondence between Jean and Albert Barnes.

The exhibit, which was organized by the Barnes and the Musées d’Orsay et de l’Orangerie, Paris, in collaboration with La Cinémathèque française, Paris, heads to the Musee d’Orsay this fall.

Programs and Events

On Friday, May 18, the spring edition of the Barnes’ Young Professionals Night serves as an homage to the new exhibition, complete with dress-code suggestions (think: film-noir star). Themed Sirens of the Screen, the event features DJ-spun beats, food, drink and access to both the museum’s permanent collection and the new Renoir exhibit.

"The Bathers" by Pierre Auguste Renoir (Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Gift from the artist’s sons, 1923, RF 2795 © RMN - Grand Palais (musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski)
Andree Heuschling — the foreground figure in Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s famous The Bathers — was Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s last model and Jean Renoir’s first wife.

Museum-goers on Monday, May 21 can enjoy a 30-minute gallery talk from Miriam Stanton, a doctoral candidate in art history at the University of Pennsylvania. Stanton will present on Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s famous Reading (La Lecture) painting.

As always, the Barnes offers free museum admission — including admission to the new Renoir exhibit — on the first Sunday of every month during its PECO Free First Sunday Family Days. The next event is Sunday, June 3.

Last but not least, the Barnes has partnered with the Lightbox Film Center at the International House Philadelphia for The Films of Jean Renoir. Six of Renoir’s films — including The Rules of the Game (June 2), Elena and Her Men (June 29), French Cancan (August 10) and The River (August 24) — will be screened at the West Philly spot this spring and summer.


General admission includes access to Renoir: Father and Son/Painting and Cinema. Admission cost is $30 for adults, $28 for seniors and $5 for students and youth. Admission is free for members and children 12 and under.

Tickets are available online.

Don’t miss this intriguing approach to exploring both a titan of 19th-century painting and his influential, filmmaker son.

Renoir: Father and Son / Painting and Cinema at the Barnes Foundation

When:May 6-September 3, 2018
Where:Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Cost:Free with general admission: $30, adults; $28, seniors; $5, students and youth



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