Painted in 1881, Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of the crowning-jewels of the Impressionist movement. Described by Duncan Phillips (founder of the Phillips Collection) as “one of the greatest paintings in the world”, it remains one of the most visited and discussed paintings of all time.
Created for the Seventh Impressionist Exhibition (held in 1882), Renoir painted this epic work to cement his reputation as a rising impressionist star. The painting accordingly won “best in show” awards from three independent critics. Immediately purchased by Paul Durand-Ruel (the avant-garde Parisian art dealer) for $125,000, the artwork quickly assumed legendary status.
Luncheon of the Boating Party is celebrated amongst famous Renoir paintings for its technical proficiency as well as vivid storytelling. The impressionist focus on flickering, shifting light depicted with fleeting, fluid brushstrokes is particularly evident.
Light streams in from the balcony opening, reflected particularly from the white shirts and rumpled tablecloths. Rather than carefully delineated outlines, the painting relies on contrasts of color and shape to build a scene full of interest and movement.
The painting shows a group of friends socializing on the Maison Fournaise restaurant balcony. Scenically located along the river Seine in the suburbs of western Paris, it was a particular haunt of impressionist circles.
All the figures in Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party are identifiable with reasonable certainty. They are mostly friends of the artist. The individuals on the immediate right of the composition consist of Angèle (one of Renoir’s long-standing muses), the journalist Maggiolo and the painter Gustave Caillebotte (mischievously sitting backwards on his chair).
Caillebotte gazes across the table at Aline Charigot, a woman playing with her small dog. Charigot and Renoir later married. The muscular Alphonse Fournaise Jr. (the proprietor’s son) leans against the railings, staring backwards into the painting. This draws the viewer’s gaze deeper into the pictorial space, towards the remaining figures.
The background figures include the cavalry officer Raoul Barbier (facing away from the viewer) and the banker and art-editor Charles Ephrussi (wearing a top hat). Jeanne Samary (a touring actress with the Comédie Française) appears in the upper-right-hand corner.
Despite the long scholarship on their exact identities, the specifics of Renoir’s sitters aren’t integral to the painting’s meaning. Renoir aimed to immortalize the sitters, representative of contemporary society as a whole, rather than individual character sketches.
Amongst Renoir artwork, Luncheon of the Boating Party is particularly hard to define in terms of genre. Some class it amongst impressionist landscape paintings. Others argue it’s best appreciated as a modern genre-painting or a simple group portrait. It’s perhaps best understood as equal measures of figure painting, still life and landscape combined.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on 25th February 1841 in Limoges. The Renoir family moved to Paris in 1844 where his father made a living as a tailor. Renoir left school in 1854, and showing great skill for drawing he started work as a porcelain painter where his talent as an artist became apparent. However, the company he worked for went bankrupt in 1858 and it was then that Renoir decided he would become a full time artist.
In 1860 Renoir was given permission to copy Old Masters in the Louvre and in 1861 he attended the school of a Swiss art teacher, Gleyer. It was there that Renoir met Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Frederic Bazille and began plein air painting. Renoir oil paintings would later form the Impressionist Art Movement with Monet, Sisley and Bazille.
In 1863 Renoir had his first painting accepted by the Official Salon, Esmeralda Dancing with her Goat, but he destroyed the painting after the exhibition.
Renoir and Monet painted together at La Grenouillere 1869, on the river Seine, in 1869, where both artists concentrated on painting the effects of light and water. Their styles and techniques were almost identical at this time, and in 1874 Renoir participated in the first Impressionist Exhibition with his work La Loge 1874, The Theatre Box, alongside Monet, Sisley, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro and Berthe Morisot.
In the 1870’s Renoir was successful in finding patrons for his work, and was backed by Caillebotte and the art dealer Durand-Ruel, as well as collectors such as Choquet, the Charpentiers and the Daidets. A famous portrait of this period is Madame Charpentier and Her Children, 1878, which is a fine example of how Renoir adapted the Impressionist landscape style to portraiture painting.
In the 1880’s and following The Luncheon of the Boating Party 1881, Renoir did not like the direction in which his painting style was heading and he went to Italy for fresh inspiration and finding it in the works of Raphael. With a more precise classical approach, Renoir began what is known as his "dry" period, with works such as The Umbrellas in 1883.
Renoir’s The Wave Seascape is on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. The original was painted in 1879 and is available from our art reproductions on canvas catalog.
In his later career, in the 1890’s, Renoir returned to a more generous and flowing style with works such as Young Girls at the Piano 1892, and Sleeping Bather, 1897 which are considered some of his best.
During the early part of the 1900’s Renoir’s health declined severely; he suffered from rheumatism that crippled his fingers, although he managed to carry on working by tying a paint brush to his hand.
Many popular Renoir paintings are held by the Louvre in Paris, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery in London.
In 1990 Renoir’s painting Bal du Moulin de la Galette 1876 sold for $78,000,000. At that time it was the highest price paid for any Impressionist painting and the third most expensive painting of all time.
A beautiful hand-painted Renoir replica painting will grace any room or office.
We offer a 100% money back guarantee or replacement service. If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your painting please contact us within 7 days of receipt, advising the reason you are unhappy and we will provide you with all the information you need for its return or replacement.
Your painting will be shipped rolled in strong plastic tubing, ready for stretching and/or framing locally. This is the conventional method of transporting hand-painted oil on canvas. Learn more about how your painting is shipped.
Please note that replica oil paintings are finished with an additional 10cm (4") of extra canvas on all sides, allowing ample surplus canvas for stretching and framing.