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Video of French Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painting and smoking, a few years before his death. During this period, Renoir worked in constant pain due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that left him unable to walk, with a permanently clenched hand, and near-paralyzed. When asked by Henri Matisse why he kept painting, Renoir replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains."

 Few people know that Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who lived from 1841 to 1919, suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis for the last 25 years of his life. There is little doubt that Renoir suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, but there is still some discussion about the precise year the arthritis started.2 It must have been around 1892, when Renoir was about 50 and in the prime of life. He was married to Aline Charigot, and two of his three sons had already been born. He was recognised as an established painter, having had exhibitions not only in Paris and other places in France but also in Brussels, London, Boston, and New York.

He was active and hardworking, painting and making study tours to Algiers, Italy, Germany, and Spain. His friends included the painters Manet, Sisley, and Cézanne and the writers Zola and de Montpassant.

The pain passes, but the beauty remains!

Renoir's paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. The female nude was one of his primary subjects.

Although no medical records remain, it is possible, thanks to photographs, his personal letters, and biographical notes by people who knew him well to get a reasonable idea about the course of his disease. The arthritis started around the age of 50, took on an aggressive form from 1903 onwards, when he was about 60, and made him quite handicapped from the age of 70 for the last seven years of his life.

Pierre-Auguste was the father of actor Pierre Renoir, filmmaker Jean Renoir, and ceramic artist Claude Renoir. He was also the grandfather of the filmmaker Claude Renoir, son of Pierre.