02/25/2012 12:21 pm ET

Happy Birthday, Renoir!

Today marks the 170th birthday of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The French artist with a keen eye for feminine beauty did not come from a wealthy background like many of his contemporaries, which meant that he embodied the "starving artist" moniker as he struggled through times when he could not even afford paint. Overcoming such obstacles, Renoir is also remembered for his impressive work ethic.

It is reported that after meeting composer Richard Wagner at his home in Sicily, it took Renoir a mere 35 minutes to paint his portrait. In the summer of 1883 while living in Guernsey, off the coast of Normandy, Renoir completed 15 paintings in a little over a month. Rheumatoid arthritis plagued the artist later in life, but he continued to work, capturing contemporary subjects with his strong, saturated color palette.

Renoir's candid scenes and innovative use of color came to typify the Impressionist movement and set the stage for further experimentation for the artist himself and generations to come.

Happy Birthday to a true innovator!