Born in Limoges, French painter and sculptor Pierre-Auguste Renoir
(1841-1919) began his artistic career at the age of 13 decorating porcelain
in his hometown's world-famous factory. He went on to become one of the
most beloved of the French Impressionists because of his works' beautiful
subjects and treatment. He is quoted having said, "Why shouldn't art be
pretty? There are enough unpleasant things in the world."
Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was influenced by the French
Impressionists' use of color and light. This in conjunction with his dynamic
brushstrokes and thickly applied paint make his works easily recognizable.
In his personal life, he was tormented by seizures, and the South of France
where he ultimately settled seemed to calm him. He is well-known for one
dramatic act of self-destruction, slicing off part of his left ear in 1888.
A year later he slipped into depression and committed suicide at the age of
37. His career was short but prolific, generating some 864 paintings and
almost 1,200 drawings and prints.