Renoir sold this painting to the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who supported the impressionists, after its completion. The painting, arguably one of Renoir’s most famous works, contains many of Renoir’s close friends, including his future wife, relaxing at the Maison Fournaise along the Seine River. Renoir often included his friends and acquaintances in his paintings, and this one is no different. At the bottom left of the composition, a woman holding a dog (monkey pincher), is seamstress Aline Charigot, whom later became Renoir’s wife. The painting also includes other close friends, actors, the proprietors of the establishment, and prominent social figures of his day. As such, it can be seen as a snapshot of the social times, as well as a depiction of a relaxing day on the river.More ...
Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881; French: Le déjeuner des canotiers) is a painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Included in the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882, it was identified as the best painting in the show by three critics. It was purchased from the artist by the dealer-patron Paul Durand-Ruel and bought in 1923 (for $125,000) from his son by industrialist Duncan Phillips, who spent a decade in pursuit of the work. It is now in The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. It shows a richness of form, a fluidity of brush stroke, and a flickering light.
The painting, combining figures, still-life, and landscape in one work, depicts a group of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise restaurant along the Seine river in Chatou, France. The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right. Renoir's future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog, an affenpinscher; she replaced an earlier woman who sat for the painting but with whom Renoir became annoyed. On the table is fruit and wine.
The diagonal of the railing serves to demarcate the two halves of the composition, one densely packed with figures, the other all but empty, save for the two figures of the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr, which are made prominent by this contrast. In this painting Renoir has captured a great deal of light. The main focus of light is coming from the large opening in the balcony, beside the large singleted man in the hat. The singlets of both men in the foreground and the table-cloth all work together to reflect this light and send it through the whole composition.
As he often did in his paintings, Renoir included several of his friends in Luncheon of the Boating Party. Identification of the sitters was made in 1912 by Julius Meier-Graefe. Among them are the following:
At the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882, the painting generally received praise from critics. "It is fresh and free without being too bawdy," wrote Paul de Charry in Le Pays, March 10, 1882. In La Vie Moderne (March 11, 1882), Armand Silvestre wrote, "...one of the best things [Renoir] has painted...There are bits of drawing that are completely remarkable, drawing- true drawing- that is a result of the juxtaposition of hues and not of line. It is one of the most beautiful pieces that this insurrectionist art by Independent artists has produced." Alternatively, Le Figaro published Albert Wolff's comment on March 2, 1882: "If he had learned to draw, Renoir would have a very pretty picture..."
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