Luncheon of the Boating Party

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For Lunch at the Restaurant Fournaise (The Rowers' Lunch), the 1875 painting by Renoir with the same theme and location, see Maison Fournaise.
Le déjeuner des canotiers
Pierre-Auguste Renoir - Luncheon of the Boating Party - Google Art Project.jpg
Artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Year 1880–1881
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 129.9 cm × 172.7 cm (51 in × 68 in)
Location The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Luncheon of the Boating Party (1881, French: Le déjeuner des canotiers) is a painting by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir. It was purchased from the artist by the dealer-patron Paul Durand-Ruel and bought in 1923 (for $125,000) from his son by Duncan Phillips.[1] 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.


The painting depicts a group of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise along the Seine river in Chatou, France. The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right. Renoir's future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with a small dog. On the table is fruit and wine.

The diagonal of the railing serves to demarcate the two halves of the composition, one densely packed with figures, the other all but empty, save for the two figures of the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr, which are made prominent by this contrast. In this painting Renoir has captured a great deal of light. The main focus of light is coming from the large opening in the balcony, beside the large singleted man in the hat. The singlets of both men in the foreground and the table-cloth all work together to reflect this light and send it through the whole composition.

Subjects depicted[edit]

Detail of Ellen Andrée drinking from a glass in the center of the composition

As he often did in his paintings, Renoir included several of his friends in Luncheon of the Boating Party. Among them are the following:[2]

  • The seamstress Aline Charigot, holding a dog, sits near the bottom left of the composition. Renoir later married her.
  • Charles Ephrussi—wealthy amateur art historian, collector, and editor of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts—appears wearing a top hat in the background. The younger man to whom Ephrussi appears to be speaking, more casually attired in a brown coat and cap, may be Jules Laforgue, his personal secretary and also a poet and critic.
  • Actress Ellen Andrée drinks from a glass in the center of the composition. Seated across from her is Baron Raoul Barbier.
  • Placed within but peripheral to the party are the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr., both sporting traditional straw boaters and appearing to the left side of the image. Alphonsine is the smiling woman leaning on the railing; Alphonse, who was responsible for the boat rental, is the leftmost figure.
  • Also wearing boaters are figures appearing to be Renoir's close friends Eugène Pierre Lestringez and Paul Lhote, himself an artist. Renoir depicts them flirting with the actress Jeanne Samary in the upper righthand corner of the painting.
  • In the right foreground, Gustave Caillebotte wears a white boater's shirt and flat-topped straw boater's hat as he sits backwards in his chair next to actress Angèle Legault and journalist Adrien Maggiolo. An art patron, painter, and important figure in the impressionist circle, Caillebotte was also an avid boatman and drew on that subject for several works.

Cleaning controversy[edit]

The 1954 restoration by Sheldon and Caroline Keck of Luncheon of the Boating Party has generated a long-running controversy. The ArtWatch UK Journal 19 (Autumn 2002) [3] quoted the art critic Alexander Eliot's recollections as Time's art critic at the time, when he repaired one day to The Phillips Collection:

The campaigning body ArtWatch International has drawn attention to the cleaning of this picture, which it regards as unnecessary and having resulted in a loss of tone. The ArtWatch UK Journal 22 (Autumn 2007) [4] quoted Sheldon Keck from his work 'Some Picture Cleaning Controversies: Past and Present' (1984):[5]

Popular culture references[edit]


  1. ^ Nicolas Pioch, WebMuseum, Paris
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ reprinted in the Journal number 22, qv.
  4. ^ at page 33
  5. ^ Keck, Sheldon (March 1984). "Some Picture Cleaning Controversies: Past and Present". Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 23 (2): 73–87. 
  6. ^ Biography from Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia: Retrieved May 17, 2010
  7. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]