"Luncheon Of The Boating Party" Famous Painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Renoir was born in Limoges, France on 25th February 1841. His father was a French tailor. The family moved to Paris when Renoir was 4 years old. They lived in an apartment close to the royal palace. Renoir was a talented singer and sang in the church choir. His singing teacher attempted to nurture this gift. However he was more interested in drawing during his singing lessons!
Renoir would draw on his music books and it was not long before his artistic talents were recognised. He also painted ladies fans and window shades but he did wonder if he would ever become a real artist.
His first work experience was working for a porcelain maker. At 13 years he was apprenticed to work in the porcelain factory. He worked there for 4 years; painting flowers and scenery on cups and saucers. Unfortunately the factory eventually become mechanised and he was no longer needed.
Renoir then worked as a copyist at the Louvre art museum in Paris. As a copyist he was permitted to attend there and copy the works of the masters. He eventually had the pleasure of seeing his own work hung there. This was when he was at last recognised as an accomplished artist.
Because of the skill and speed with which he could accomplish assignments; Renoir was asked to decorate more than 20 cafes in Paris. He at last was able to attend art school and it was here he met Claude Monet. Although money was scarce, both Monet and Renoir went against the establishment and were later known as “Impressionists”.
Painting outdoors and using bright colours, the work now known as Impressionism was not readily accepted by the critics. Interesting to note that one of Renoir’s other famous paintings “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” sold at auction in 1990 for $78.1 million! Sadly, unlike his friend Claude Monet; it has been after his death, not during his life, that his worth has been recognised.
Renoir was a prolific painter, amassing over 6,000 paintings in his lifetime. He often used his friends as his models. Interestingly,the model for “Portrait of Madame Charpentier” was the matriarch of the Charpentier family. They not only be friended him but also helped him financially. He did have his work accepted by the Salon; an exhibition in France that helped him to become successful. The Salon objected to his Impressionist styles and unlike Monet; he acquiesced and many of his paintings were painted to please the Salon. He therefore did not always stay true to his original Impressionist leanings. However, his love for painting never waned.
“Luncheon of the Boating Party” is of a group of friends who are lunching on a balcony. As with many of his paintings, Renoir used many of his friends and one of his models for this scene. In this scene Aline Charigot is the girl holding the little dog. She was later to become his wife.
When Renoir was 40 years old, although Aline was 17 years younger they were married. They had 3 children together. Once they had children, Renoir began painting scenes of families and was known to be a doting father who also very protective of his children.
As with others who painted in the Impressionism mode; there is plenty of light. It is a vibrant portrayal of friends relaxing on a Sunday afternoon, following lunch. They are enjoying each others company. As this was a time in his life when his work was being condemned by the critics and he was struggling financially; this must have really meant something special to Renoir. It evokes a feeling of warmth that this gathering portrays.
Some of those friends included fellow artist Paul Lhote; wearing a boater and flirting with the actress Jeanne Samary in the upper right-hand corner of the painting. Others in the painting were fellow artists, poets, actresses who were well known in the art and literary world of the day.
Yet another was Gustave Caillebotte; an art patron, fellow painter and avid boatman. He later drew on this subject as inspiration for his own paintings. He was also an important member of the Impressionist movement.
Throughout his life Renior experienced times of hardship as well as times of sheer delight; especially enjoying his family and his beloved painting. He did not linger on any of the setbacks. To him a picture should be “a pleasant thing, joyful and pretty” and his paintings reflected that philosophy.
Sadly, in later life Renoir suffered from the debilitating condition rheumatoid arthritis. He found it difficult to hold a paintbrush and often had to use a wheelchair to move around. He later had a stroke that resulted in him becoming partially paralysed.
Whether short of money in his early days at art school; to his debilitating condition later in life; his paintings reflected beauty. He displayed optimism throughout his life. He sought to portray art as pretty; as to him why shouldn’t it be; for there was enough unpleasantness in the world.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir is now acknowledged as one of the most popular painters of all time. His work is hung in many world-renowned art galleries; where the public can enjoy his many works of art. He is also one of the most reproduced of all artists. A testament to his vision of the world. A vision of both colour and light.
This article is the second in a series: Famous Painter: Famous Painting
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