The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Biography

Ary Cornélis Renan, 1858-1900

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1858
Place of Birth: Paris
Date of Death: 1900.08.04
Place of Death: Paris


Ary Cornélis Renan was a figure and landscape painter, printmaker, poet and writer on art. He was the son of the historian Ernest Renan and the grandson of the painter Henri Scheffer (1798–1862). His great-uncle was Ary Scheffer.


Renan studied under Elie Delaunay, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Gustave Moreau. He became Moreau's close friend and disciple. In 1880 he made his début at the Salon. His works, which were primarily mythological, include Sapho et Ischia (Luxembourg). His paintings also reflected his travels in the Middle East and Algeria, and his time working in Brittany, e.g. Les bords du Jourdain (Musée d'Amiens).

Renan became part of the Symbolist movement and was a prominent figure, along with Jacques-Emile Blanche, in the organisation of the first Salon des Indépendants in the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. Like JW, he exhibited in the 1880s with the Société des XX in Brussels. He also exhibited with the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and was invited to show at the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, a society that formed in London in 1898 with JW as it President.

Renan was a regular contributor to the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. He wrote two significant series of articles on his mentor Moreau in 1886 and 1899, and a monograph on the artist in 1900. In 1901 he published a volume of poetry, Rêves d'artiste. He was awarded the Légion d'honneur.


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; 'Ary Cornélis Renan', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 24 November 2003).