Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

How great would it be to have been at this party! Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), in his Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881), once again shows his mastery of capturing mood. In this case, the picture just shouts lightness and life, reeling the viewer in, not just as an observer, but as a participant in the scene. As with most works of Renoir, the coloring and light interplay is amazing. The fluidity of the brush strokes and the overall impact of the stylistic approach is simply mesmerizing. Having seen this in person, I can say that the life it represents has captured my imagination of the ideal ever since.

Luncheon of the Boating Party, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1881, Phillips Collection, Washington, from wiki commons

As was common in this stage of Renoir’s career, the painting is from real life, with realism fully intertwined with the Impressionistic styling. This was, and is now again, a real restaurant, Maison Fournaise, along the Seine, west of Paris. The people in the painting are Renoir’s friends. The woman in the left front petting the dog is Aline Charigot, Renoir’s future wife. Fellow artist Gustave Caillebotte is seated in the lower right. More important than the realism of the setting, Renoir captures the mood, the magic of the moment, as reflected in the heart and soul of the subjects. Just look at any one subject, you can sense what they are thinking, what they are feeling.

You can see this painting at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Alternatively, you can come to my house, sip on a wonderful Bordeaux, and see a terrific duplicate resting above my piano!

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