Pierre-Auguste Renoir


On Failure and the Renaissance: A letter to Durand and Ruel


Naples, 21 November 1881
Dear Monsieur Durand, Ruel,

I have been meaning to write to you for a long time, but I wanted to send you a mass of pictures as well. But I am still bogged down in experiments — a malady. I'm not satisfied, so I clean things off, again and again. I hope the mania is coming to an end, that is why I am giving you this sign of life. I do not think I shall bring back very much from my travels. But I think I shall have made progress, which always happens after experimenting for a long time. One always comes back to one's first love, but with a note added. Anyhow, I hope you will forgive me if I don't bring you back a great deal. Besides, you'll see what I shall do for you in Paris. I am like a child at school. The new page is always going to be neatly written, and then pouf! . . . a blot. I'm still making blots . . . and I am 40 years old. I went to look at the Raphael's in Rome. They are very fine and I ought to have seen them earlier. They are full of skill and wisdom. He didn't try to do the impossible, like me. But his work is fine. I prefer Ingres for oil painting. But the frescoes are admirable in their simplicity and nobility. I take it you are well, as usual, and your little family too. But I shall be seeing you soon, for Italy is very fine. But Paris . . . Ah ! Paris .. . I am beginning something. I won't tell you what, because then I should spoil it. I have my superstitions. A thousand greetings,


A self-taught painter struggles through poverty and war.

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