Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Luncheon of the Boating Party: Renoir

I am currently reading Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland.
Have you read it? This was a recommendation from my friend Florie Enders. You can find it in the used book section on Barnes & Noble for as little as $1.99!!!!

A photo of the actual painting is on the cover but I had to go and find it on line so I could see it free of the overprinting and price tag!

Like the popular book Girl with the Pearl Earring (on Vermeer's life) by Tracy Chevalier, this is a fictionalized history of what it might have been like for Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his friends at this particular time period at the beginning of the recognition of Impressionism (1881).

The people in this painting are historically correct for the most part as Renior identified each. The girl in the flowered hat at the lower left was later to become his wife. I am about half way through the book. This is very fun to read about this artist's life and times and the author tries to take us inside his mind as begins to paint this canvas (which is quite large)talking about color, lights, shades, pigments, brush strokes, etc.. She talks about the way artist's materials are purchased and used, how canvas is stretched and about the trials and tribulations of hiring models.

Unlike some of the sadder artist stories, he seems a happy painter bent on painting beauty. He is quoted as saying, " To my mind, a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful, and pretty, yes pretty! There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them." Amen. My sentiments exactly!!!

The friends actually posed for him in a group or in small groups for many weeks at this restaurant at Masison Fourmaise along the Seine River in Chatou, France. The painting is currently housed in The Philips Collection in Washington, DC.

I have read somewhere that when the painting was cleaned, it wasn't done professionally and some of the color has been lost from the original! How sad.


  1. I have read this one and it was a good book, lots of information about being/thinking like an artist as well as inside scoops on some of the artists/friends who posed for this. Reading this is a good way to start 2010!

  2. I read this just about this time last year. Or at this point in the calendar was that almost two years ago. I found the development of each character very interesting as well as the insight into Parisienne holiday life delightful. Happy New Year!

  3. I am glad to hear that others have read it too...I had not heard of it until Florie recommended it!