Pierre-Auguste Renoir carefully constructed the people, place, and composition to create his epic painting about modern life. In one of his letters, Renoir wrote that “one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.”
Renoir’s goal to create something spectacular did not go unnoticed. Upon its completion, it caught the eye of Duncan Phillips, the founder of The Phillips Collection. In a letter to a colleague, Phillips wrote, “the Phillips Memorial Gallery [the original name of The Phillips Collection] is to be the possessor of one of the greatest paintings in the world. The Dejeuner des Canotiers is the masterpiece by Renoir...It will do more good in arousing interest and support for our project than all the rest of our collection put together.”
Phillips was right—Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of the most popular images at The Phillips Collection. This section will dive into how Renoir achieved this accomplishment by examining the who, what, when, and where of the painting.
There are 13 people in the painting.Explore the identities of each figure and how they represented the changing social scene in Paris.
Renoir used a series of compositional tricks to artfully arrange everyone in the picture.Learn more about his artistic choices to better understand his technique.
The painting is set at the Maison Fournaise.Examine the history and cultural significance of this hotel and restaurant in Chatou.