Ask-a-Librarian: Jean Renoir ceramics

Ask-a-Librarian: Jean Renoir ceramics


The Barnes has both art and horticulture libraries. When visitors or students have a question about the Barnes, they ask a librarian.  

Q: How many ceramic pieces by Jean Renoir does the Barnes Foundation own? Are all of them in the galleries?

A: The short answer is, Barnes purchased 42 ceramic works by Jean in two batches in 1921 and 1922 through the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. The Barnes collection of Jean Renoir ceramics is the largest in the world. There are five pieces in the galleries (one each in rooms 4, 6, 7, 9 and 13); the rest are in storage.

There is a very informative entry in the book The Barnes Foundation: Masterworks by Martha Lucy that goes into more detail.


Jean Renoir, middle son of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, is best known as the director of classic films such as Rules of the Game (La Règle du jeu) and Grand Illusion (La Grande illusion). He also made ceramics, turning out dozens of glazed earthenware pots in the years before he embarked on a film career.

From being a porcelain painter early in his career, Pierre-Auguste Renoir retained an interest in handmade decoration; he encouraged his son Jean to pursue pottery, installing a kiln for him at his home and studio in the south of France. Jean worked there, at Les Collettes, in the years immediately following his father’s death in 1919, using clay from the fields surrounding the estate. “At Renoir’s wish we did everything by hand,” Jean wrote in his autobiography. Albert Barnes knew the three Renoir sons well, having collected enormous quantities of their father’s work, and he may well have seen Jean’s pottery on his 1921 trip to Les Collettes.


Newer Older