It seems possible that a fortuitous circumstance -- the founding of the weekly, La Vie Moderne, by Renoir's patrons, the Charpentiers -- prompted the painter to do more drawings than before and to do them from an entirely new angle. The first issue of this publication, devoted to artistic, literary and mundane life, with a marked tendency toward the popular, appeared in April 1879. Renoir's brother Edmond, a professional journalist, was on the staff, and the painter himself ranked among the illustrators. Anxious to be of service to his benefactress, Mme Charpentier, Renoir accepted all kinds of commissions.
He drew portraits of prominent people for the cover, made drawings after some paintings (among them Manet Fifre), designed initials and even declared himself ready to make sketches for a special fashion page by visiting various milliners and dressmakers and by drawing hats and gowns in their shops. This proposal was not accepted, possibly because there was no space, and Renoir was entrusted instead with such chores as meeting the famous ballerina Rosita Mauri, who graciously "lent" her head for portraiture but left to a less famous colleague the task of assuming a tiring ballet pose.
Renoir enjoyed greater freedom in his work whenever he undertook to illustrate for La Vie Moderne some short stories by his brother. Here he could abandon himself to his imagination and even use some of his paintings for inspiration, as he did in two drawings of dancing couples, obviously done after recently completed canvases of the same subject. Moreover, these drawings were reproduced more faithfully, according to a new process, while his first illustrations for La Vie Moderne had had to be done on a special, grained paper, on which white was obtained by scraping, an awkward technique called "guillotage."
While he worked occasionally for La Vie Moderne between 1879 and 1886, Renoir's real interest lay in his painting, where he suddenly felt himself confronted with new problems. He had arrived at a phase where luminous spots and capricious effects of reflection began to menace the unity of his composition, where the observation of instantaneous changes threatened to destroy his contact with the objects themselves. Fearing that impressionism might lead him toward a complete dissolution of volumes, he sensed a danger which he tried to escape. Whereas Monet was prepared to go the whole way, to follow his sensations even to the point where the subject itself was ignored beyond its light-bathed surface, Renoir felt the need for more emphasis on structure. Unwilling to stray altogether from the path of tradition, he endeavored to re-establish relationship with the "simplicity and grandeur of the ancient painters."
The works of Raphael drew Renoir to Italy. In 1881-82 he went to Rome and Naples, to study there the frescoes by Ingres' idol, as well as Pompeian painting. They made a profound impression upon him. In front of Raphael's compositions he sighed: "Unlike me, he did not seek the impossible," and he observed with some surprise that the master had been able to study the effects of light without ever having worked out-of-doors. Renoir began to wonder whether he had followed the right path and particularly regretted having too much neglected drawing.
Auguste Renoir, Ball at the Moulin De La Galette, Young Girls on the River Bank, Impressionism, Girls Picking Flowers in a Meadow, Picking Flowers, The Luncheon of the Boating Party, The Apple Seller, Alice Gamby in the Garden, Young Girl Sitting in the Grass, Dance at Bougival, Little Algerian Girl, Reading Woman, Deux Soeurs, Alphonsine Fournaise at the Grenouillere, Young Girls at the Piano, L'Estaque, Yvonne et Jean, La Baigneuse, In the Luxembourg Gardens, Jeune Fille Blonde, Auguste Renoir Portraits, Dahlias, The Little Fisherwoman (Marthe Berard), The Excursionist, On the Terrace, Baigneuse Au Griffon, Bather with Griffon, Lady with a Parasol, The Pond at Fees, La Loge