Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), the famed French painter, had a first attack of rheumatism in 1894. As the attacks became more and more frequent, Renoir spent increasingly more time in southern France. There the climate was better for his health.
About 1899 Renoir took refuge in the small village of Cagnes, and in 1907 he settled there permanently, buying an estate. There he spent the rest of his life.
Renoir in 1910 could no longer walk. Although his infirmity became more and more constraining, he never stopped painting. When his fingers were no longer flexible, he painted by tying his paintbrush to his hand.
In spite of his misfortune, Renoir's paintings during this period still embodied a joyful attitude toward life. His themes became more personal and intimate. He focused on portraits of his wife, his children, and Gabrielle, his maid. Gabrielle often posed for his nude paintings. His still lifes were of flowers and fruits from his own garden, and the landscapes were those that surrounded him. The nudes, especially, mirror the serenity Renoir enjoyed in his work.
During decline due to rheumatism, Renoir's hands became cramped and twisted. A friend, Henri Matisse (1869-1954), often seen as the greatest French painter of the 20th Century, watched sadly, while Renoir was grasping a brush with only his finger tips, continuing to paint though each motion caused him much suffering.
One day Matisse asked Renoir why he continued painting, in light of the anguish it brought him. Renoir replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains."
Participation in creation of Beauty frees us from the smallness and pettiness of small, demystified lives. To reflect Beauty and befriend Her, persons sacrifice. They surrender the comforts and leisure many cling to as an inalienable right. They forfeit the friendship, understanding, and company of the many persons who refuse to surrender themselves to live in union with Beauty Herself.
The problem with much religion is not so much that it is wrong or evil. The problem with much religion is more that it has lost all contact with the beautiful, with Beauty. Like our culture, it has bowed to the spiritless gods pragmatism, intellectualism, and pseudo-community. It offers a cheap, selfish salvation that promises a life of convenience and proffered grace, and has lost touch with the Beauty of the bliss and agony of self-sacrifice.
How might you make your life a more intimate relationship with Beauty?
See next page for details on OneLife Ministries, Brian's book An Ache for Union, and material pertaining to sources used in the writing.
Feel free to submit a query. Thanks! Brian K. Wilcox
See next page for Invitation to writer's contemplative village, purpose of OneLife, data on ordering author's book and upcoming devotionals 2008, and material on citations.