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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party

“Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“Luncheon of the Boating Party” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir depicts a group of Renoir’s friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise restaurant, along the Seine river in Chatou, France. All of the figures in the painting have been identified, and their names are known. Renoir’s future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog.

The diagonal of the railing serves to demarcates the two halves of the composition, one full of figures, the other showing the landscape except for the two figures which are made prominent by this contrast. In this painting, Renoir has skillfully captured flickering light with a fluidity of brush stroke.

At the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition in 1882, the painting well received by the critics. Including the following quote:

“…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.”

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, commonly known as Auguste Renoir, was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated color, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. In characteristic Impressionist style, Renoir suggested the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of color, so that his figures softly fuse with their surroundings.

At the age of 51, Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis which in his last twenty years of his life severely limited his mobility. He developed progressive deformities in his hands and ankylosis of his right shoulder, requiring him to change his painting technique. Renoir remained positive and passionate about his art and did not let his condition affect his painting or diminish the beauty that he saw around him. In the advanced stages of his arthritis, he required an assistant to place his paintbrush in his hand. His hands were also wrapped with bandages to prevent skin irritation. Renoir applied a variety of effective coping strategies and used his ingenuity to come up with different ways to continue painting even as his arthritis weakened him.

A few years before Renoir’s death, a young Henri Matisse asked Renoir why he continued to paint? It was apparent that he was in pain and suffering from severe arthritis. Renoir replied:

“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

Renoir was a prolific artist who created several thousand paintings. The single most extensive collection of his works, about 181 pictures, are part of the Barnes Foundation, in Philadelphia.

Maison Fournaise

The Maison Fournaise, where the “Luncheon of the Boating Party” is today a restaurant and museum located on Impressionist Island on the Seine in Chatou, west of Paris. In 1857, Alphonse Fournaise bought land in Chatou to open a boat rental, restaurant, and small hotel for the new tourist trade.

The family restaurant was a favorite of Pierre-Auguste Renoir. He painted many scenes at the restaurant. He also made several portraits of Fournaise family members and many landscapes of the surrounding area. In 1880, Renoir wrote to a friend:

“My painting detains me in Chatou. Be kind enough to come and have lunch with me.
You won’t regret your trip; this is the loveliest place in the surroundings of Paris.”

The Maison Fournaise museum’s collection is focused on the history of the house and the golden age of the banks of the Seine. It also holds exhibitions around contemporary artistic movements from the Impressionist era.

Luncheon of the Boating Party

  • Title:                  Luncheon of the Boating Party
  • Français:            Le déjeuner des canotiers
  • Artist:                 Pierre-Auguste Renoir
  • Date:                 1881
  • Style:                 Impressionism
  • Medium:           Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions:      Height: 1,302 mm (51.26 in). Width: 1,756 mm (69.13 in).
  • Museum:          The Phillips Collection

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

A Tour of the Phillips Collection

A Tour of Washington, D.C. Museums

Reflections

  • What makes this painting immediately recognizable as a Renoir?
  • Did you know that Renoir suffered a great deal from rheumatoid arthritis during the last 20 years of his life?

~~~

“The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
– Pierre-Auguste Renoir

~~~


Photo Credit 1) Pierre-Auguste Renoir [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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