Luncheon of the Boating Party
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It's time to don your party hat and crack open a bottle of pinot. This is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, and Renoir knew how to get down.

Any man who has an alleged affair and love child is probably not on the straight and narrow. He knew, as so many Frenchmen do, how to kick back and clink glasses. Here we see a beautiful scene of his friends sharing food, drinks and conversation at the Maison Fournaise, overlooking the Seine River in Chatou, France.

This crowd highlights a few of Renoir’s classiest friends including artists, art historians and actresses. The woman in the lower left canoodling with the pooch is Renoir’s soon to be wife. She looks chipper probably due to the fact she's oblivious to her future husband's infidelity. That or she just really likes little dogs. It would also appear that the two suitors in the back right corner are trying to get their flirt on with a young lady. But she seems to have no desire to listen and, in an awesome move, covers her ears instead. Everyone else looks to be having tasteful conversations.

Perhaps these party-goers are trying to watch their waistlines for there appears to be virtually no food, just a few measly grapes. That or they are trying to get their crunk on by drinking copious amounts of wine on an empty stomach. Either way, they seem to be having a fabulous time despite the dearth of snacks. Renoir’s son, Jean, once explained that his father did not care too much for food, so maybe that's why it's missing from this so-called "lunch" party. (I'm sorry, but saying you don't like food is as bad as saying you don't like music. Have you no soul??)

This painting was a huge success when Renoir first showed it, which was a sign that the times were a-changing. Prior to the late nineteenth century, there was really only one opinion that mattered in the art world and it was that of the stuffy, bureaucratic Académie des Beaux Arts (The Academy of Fine Arts). They felt that any art that wasn't related to mythology, religious iconography, or history and was not rendered accurately was pretty much garbage. So the fact that people enjoyed this loosely rendered piece depicting everyday life shows that the world was ready to progress to a less rigid definition of good art. Little did they know just how far future artists were going to take it. Mua-ha-ha.

The painting stayed popular. In the adorable French movie Amélie (2001), this painting is copied by her sweet but reclusive neighbor. The woman drinking from a glass is the topic of much conversation, most of it dreamy and existential in that way only the French can pull off without sounding like a major d-bag.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Luncheon of the Boating Party

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.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Luncheon of the Boating Party.

Comments (1)

Lexi K

I love the facial expressions of the different people in this painting. This painting almost feels like it could immersive in the fact that as I look at it, I can almost hear and see the surroundings. I really enjoy the pops of color that bring this picture together. Overall, this is one of my favorite pictures involving people that I have seen.