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Astrology At Work: The Tale of Two ChildrenRenoirImage

I was recently reading a biography by Barbara Ehrlich White of the famous Impressionist painter, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Most biographies of famous artists focus on their work and shy away from discussions of their personal lives, but Ms. White takes a different approach. Among other things she discusses the two illegitimate children Renoir fathered with his mistress, Lise Trebot.

The first was a boy born in born at 10:30 AM on Sept. 15, 1868. He was named Pierre and, since Renoir did not acknowledge parentage, his was given the last name of his mother. (Click here to see the chart.) What is striking about this horoscope is that Saturn is in the First House and it forms a unique aspect pattern with Uranus and Neptune.

Uranus and Neptune at the time of his birth were in an almost exact square and they both formed an exact 135 degree aspect (called a sesquidquadrate) to Saturn. This is an obscure aspect, but since it places a lot of stress on Saturn in the First House, the house ruling the physical body, it does not bode well. Pierre was sent to a foundling home. Nothing is known about him after that. About half of the children separated from their mother and sent to such homes died in infancy.

Pluto in this chart is on the Descendant. Whenever Pluto is close to an angle in a horoscope it indicates significant struggle. Here Pluto receives some helpful aspects from Uranus and Mars, but it is in the sign opposite the sign it rules. This means that it is weak and prone to show the worst of its attributes. When you combine this with the previous described arrangement, it seems likely despite the fact that his Sun and Moon are strongly placed, that this child did not survive being separated from his mother.

A couple of years later, shortly before she left him to marry and wealthier man, Lise had another child, a girl named Jeanne. We don’t have a time of birth for Jeanne, but the alignment of the planets on the day or her birth with the horoscope of her father tells a very interesting story. (Click here to see a double chart with Renoir’s on the inside and Jeanne’s on the outside.) Neptune at the time of Jeanne’s birth was conjunct Renoir’s Moon while Saturn opposed his natal Venus. These aspects not only impacted the relationship between father and daughter, they describe what was going on in the mind of Renoir at this time.

The Neptune aspect indicates that this was a confusing time for Renoir, but it also opened a vein of compassion that was not there when Pierre was born. This empathetic reaction was increased by the fact that Renoir was a Sun sign Pisces. At the same time, the Saturn aspect was demanding that he be practical, that he recognize the realities of his financial situation and the uncertain future with his mistress. But Saturn is all about duty and responsibility, so it also called upon the painter to honor his obligation to the child.

Renoir arranged for Jeanne to be taken by a foster family. He never lost touch with her, and when she was older, they began a correspondence that lasted the rest of Renoir’s life. He also sent her financial support and legally acknowledged his parentage so that she could take his name. Renoir did all of this in secret since, by this time he had acquired a wife and another family.

In our privileged world we tend to think of astrology in terms of personality development and the important choices we make during our lives. However, in a different time and a different social setting astrology can also describe the difference between life and death. We don’t know exactly what happened to Pierre, but we do know that Jeanne had a full and relatively happy life. And it was all because of the planets in her horoscope and how they interacted with the horoscope of her father.