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  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
    Feb 25, 1841 – Dec 3, 1919
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party - Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that "Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau", he was noted for his radiant, intimate paintings, particularly of the female nude.
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Luncheon of the Boating Party
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  • Luncheon of the Boating Party

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir
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  • 1881
    Oil on canvas
    129.5 x 172.7 cm (51 x 68 in.)
    The Phillips Collection, United States.

    Not since the Venetian painters of the High Renaissance has the world seen such glowing opulence in painting. But whereas the Venetians generally found their inspiration in the myths and lore of ancient times, Renoir's genius transmutes the common occurrences of everyday life into Olympian grandeur. These young gods and goddesses are friends of the painter, persons well known in Parisian art circles at the time. Aline Charigot, a favorite model whom Renoir married shortly after this picture was painted, sits at the left toying with the dog; the other girl at the table is another favorite model, Angele, a lady of colorful repute. Caillebotte, wealthy engineer, talented spare-time painter - who early began to acquire his great collection of Impressionist paintings, which is now the pride of the Louvre (after a frenzy of opposition to the bequest in the 1890s), sits astride the chair. The lady who so kittenishly closes her ears to a naughty jest is probably the actress Jeanne Samary, painted by Renoir many times. The identity of most of the others is also known.

    We have already mentioned Renoir's felicity in inventing graceful, vivacious poses - poses that always seem as though this is the way people ought to look. We have mentioned his knack for enlivening his canvases with piquant notes- a face that emerges unexpectedly, a play of fingers, bits of still life, bonnets, ribbons, beards, stripes, flowers. As is customary in Renoir's large compositions (and the Venetians'), one side of the canvas is rich in things big and near; the other side presents a view into the distance - in this case, a breathtaking piece of Impressionist virtuosity.

    Foreground and background are related in part by the awning, which in its striping combines the hues of the foliage with the warmer tones of the group; its delightful serpentine edge echoes freely the curves in the group, and the breeze that flutters the valance sweeps also across the balcony. The feeling of animation is given in many subtle and striking ways: for example, the perspective of the balcony leads the eye to the upper right, but the open visual path into the distance offers an opposed attraction. And all the while the eye is cunningly led back, through relationships of color - the spotting of blacks, for instance; and through line relationships, over backs, across heads, or following edges of color or light areas. And within every detail, no matter how small or casual, what a wonderful enrichment! This one canvas alone would be enough to assure a painter immortality.

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Other paintings by Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

La Grenouillere 2
La Grenouillere 2
Jeunes filles au piano (Girls at the Piano)
Jeunes filles au piano (Girls at the Piano)
Spring Bouquet
Spring Bouquet
Albert Cahen d'Anvers
Albert Cahen d'Anvers
Pierre-Auguste RenoirBorn in Limoges, Renoir moved to Paris and began his career as an apprentice painter in a porcelain manufacturing plant. His formal studies began at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1862 and continued at Gleyre's studio where he painted with fellow Impressionists, Sisley and Monet. Renoir's early paintings demonstrate his love of 18th Century French painting as well as the influence of Courbet and Delacroix.

The artist's portraits of women, often engaged in mundane daily activities, demonstrate his skill as a colorist. Working on a small scale, the artist used the subtleties of light and color to model his subjects. In the first years of the 20th Century, Renoir, encumbered by the effects of rheumatism, retreated to his home in the south of France where he increasingly turned to painting a favored subject: the female nude. These sensitive renderings, widely regarded as among the artist's finest works, represent a stylistic departure from Renoir's earlier paintings, evoking the nudes of the classical world.