A portrait of the artist as an old man, Renoir depicts the final years of the painter’s life, as he continues to paint sensual, cheerful scenes in the face of World War I and his worsening rheumatoid arthritis. Renoir has a small army of women–mostly former models–living with and taking care of him, and even carrying him into streams and setting up his easel.
Renoir has adapted to his disability by wrapping the paintbrush in his hand with bandages each day, yet his obnoxious doctor harbors the attitude that he must be ambulatory in order to continue working. To prove his point, he insists that Renoir stand up and walk for him, though it’s clearly excruciating. When the doctor asks what he’ll do once he can no longer use his hands, Renoir testily replies “Then I’ll paint with my dick.”
Renoir’s son Jean also had a physical disability as a result of a bullet to the leg he received during the war, and walked with a limp afterwards. During his recuperation, spent watching early movies with his leg elevated, Jean discovered a love of cinema and went on to become a successful director of silent films.