Renoir’s Summer Home Will Open to the Public as a Museum

The French painter's home in Essoyes, France will open its doors after four years of renovations.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s former family home in Essoyes, France will open to the public as a museum on June 3, following four years of major restoration. It will join Renoir’s studio—already open for 20 years and located at the bottom of the home’s garden—as a tourist attraction in the small French village on the Seine.

The legendary painter’s great-granddaughter, Sophie Renoir, sold the house in 2012 to the local council for €600,000 ($670,971), according to the Art Newspaperwhich first reported the story. The town’s deputy mayor, Philippe Talbot, estimates that about €1 million ($1.2 million) has been spent since then on renovations, which includes added elevator access, reinforcement of walls, climate control for precious works, and general restoration of the interiors and garden.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Springtime in Essoyes (c.1900). Courtesy Wikimedia commons.

Restoration efforts were guided by Renoir’s own paintings of the house, with the aim, Talbot explains, “to return it to its state in his time.”

The studio already receives about 10,000 visitors a year—a number expected to increase with the opening of the home. At the moment, the studio displays a slideshow and late sculptures by the artist, as well as memorabilia.

For the museum’s opening exhibition, three other French institutions have loaned works by the master: a sculpture from the Renoir Museum in Cagnes-sur-Mer; a 1919 portrait titled Jeune femme au miroir from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rouen; and a landscape depicting a bridge in Essoyes from Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux.

The French painter bought the home in 1896 with his wife, the model Aline Charigot, who was born in Essoyes. Though they eventually moved to a villa in Cagnes-sur-Mer on the coast, Renoir and his family continued to use the house during the summers, and they were so closely tied to the village that he, Aline, and their three children are buried in the local cemetery.

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