Considered one of the greatest landscape painters of Lorraine, Alfred Renaudin staged in his paintings a perfect representation of Lorraine's countryside, its villages lit by a soft, warm light. His work holds a prominent place in the history of the art of Lorraine.
Renaudin was born on June 3, 1866 in Laneuveville-lès-Raon near Raon-L'Etape, located in the Vosges Mountains. He was the eldest son of Valentine Renaudin and his wife, born Françoise Thomassin. His father was an employee of the railroad.
In 1870, Prussian soldiers burned the Renaudin family home, and Alfred was carried by his neighbors to shelter. At the end of the 1870-1871 war, the family left and moved to Croismare, a small village near Luneville, which was known for its glassworks. Renaudin worked in the glasswork industry in order to make a living. Fascinated by the luminous forms emerging from the end of the glass-blowers' canes, he developed an interest in the arts and, in 1881, became an apprentice ceramist at the Faïencerie Keller et Guérin de Luneville. The artist's mentors had no trouble teaching him the art, and his passion for art pushed him toward painting and drawing. His work captured the interest not only of his mentors, Keller and Guérin, but also of their friend Baron Ravinel, a great collector of art.
Renaudin studied at the School of Fine Arts in Nance, under the direction of Jules Larcher. While there, the artist continued to improve his techniques and studied the works of the great master painters. Full of promising merit and achievements, his teachers provided him with the means to pursue art studies in Paris.
In Paris, Renaudin studied landscape painting under Henri Harpignies, as well as the watercolorist Paul Rome.
At the age of 24, in 1890, Alfred Renauldin entered his first exhibition at the Salon of French Artists with a landscape of Lorraine, under the advice of his teachers.
Renaudin was well-traveled. In 1892, Renaudin spent an extended amount of time in Africa, followed by visits to Egypt, Holland and Spain. In 1896, he traveled to Italy, and then returned to Paris to exhibit in the Salon, where he received an honorable mention for one of his works. In 1898, he worked in England and Scotland, comparing the bluish horizons and gray silhouettes to his native Vosges. In 1899, he received his third gold medal from the Paris Salon.
In 1901, Renaudin married Miss Marie Marguerite Zeller. The couple had four daughters - Marguerite, Madeleine, Françoise and Thérèse.
In 1908, the artist was honored at the Salon of French Artists in Paris for one of his works.
In 1914, World War I broke out. At age 48, Renaudin was no longer fit to serve in the military, and instead worked at the School of Fine Arts in Nance, which became a hospital. At the closing of the school, the artist traveled with his family to Auvergne.
On his return to Lorraine, Renaudin spent two years painting the ruins of Gerbéviller and Verdun, creating a testimony to the severe devastation created by Germany.
Alongside Surgeon General Edmond Delorme, the artist founded the Museum of Art and Industry in Luneville. Renaudin himself donated a series of paintings to the museum.
In 1928, he returned to Auvergne, where he exhibited at Clermont-Ferrand. It was at this point that he became both nationally and internationally known as an artist. His works were highly regarded and desired, and engravers and printers sought to reproduce copies of his paintings.
In July 1934, Alfred Renaudin became a Knight of the Legion of Honor.
In May of 1940, at the start of World War II, the artist's home and workshop were destroyed during a bombing. He and his family once again left Lorraine for Auvergne. Shortly after their arrival, Renaudin learned of the death of his son, killed in the war. He found solace in his art and in the affection of the people around him.
His workshop Auvergne was a modest barn on the farm where the family lived. The barn caught fire one night, destroying all of the work produced while he was there, along with a number of paintings that survived the bombing in Lorraine.
Alfred Renaudin died November 7, 1944. He was buried in a small cemetery, and was later moved to his native Lorraine after World War II. He now rests in the family vault of the Zeller family.
In 1987, a major exhibition was held at the Museum of Luneville, his adopted city.