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The Luncheon of the Boating Party

also known as Le déjeuner des Canotiers

Artist: Pierre Auguste Renoir
Created: 1881
Dimensions (cm): 172.7 x 129.5
Format: Oil on canvas
Location: The Phillips Collection, Washington, USA

The Luncheon of the Boating Party, is in a sense the summing up of Renoir’s achievements up until that date.  It is as some critics’ say, a mature version of his Le Moulin de la Galette, which is considered his masterpiece up until 1876.  It is a more coherent painting than Le Moulin and the forms are more solid, although the governing composition is basically the same.  The eye follows a diagonal line from bottom left to top right of the picture.  The main focus of the picture is the bottom right where.  Interestingly enough, the girl who will be Renoir’s future wife is sitting!

The spirit of the picture is one of joy and pleasure and leisure.  The feeling is relaxed.  There is evidence of much wine and food already having been ingested with much left yet to enjoy.  One has the impression that the gathering knows each other well and is very comfortable in their company.  The setting is extremely informal and the company merry.

Renoir was in a very happy state in his life when he painted this picture.  Perhaps this is why the painting is so full of joie de vivre.  One of the reasons that he was in such a happy frame of mind most likely has a lot to do with the girl in the bottom right corner of the painting holding the little puppy, but it also had to do with the fact that his career was going quite well when he created this beautiful painting.

Perhaps Renoir had weddings on his mind when he painted this because the painting is suggestive of a party held after a wedding ceremony has taken place.  That is the sort of atmosphere that Renoir has created with this painting: a feeling of celebrating the beautiful moments that occur in our lives.  The painting reminds us that: “The best things in life aren’t things.”  This painting seems to allow us to focus on what really is important in our lives: good friends, a peaceful environment, good food and as an added bonus, lovely wine!


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