Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party

Phillips Collection. Oct. 2017. 144p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781911282006. $34.95. FINE ARTS
Impressionist Pierre-August Renoir's famous painting Luncheon of the Boating Party is the glory of the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, and the subject of this exhibition catalog celebrating the museum's 100th anniversary. Pictured are Renoir's friends and acquaintances, the people of 1870s Paris—Rathbone names the various figures in the painting, including Renoir's soon-to-be-bride, Aline Charigot, and discusses their relationship to the artist. This lighthearted gathering can be seen as a history painting of the times documenting the leisure of a creative group. The exhibition borrows paintings from other collections to add to the background of the creation of this painting en plein air. It is a meaningful educational rendition for modern eyes as well as an aesthetic masterpiece in which Phillips Collection chief curator emerita Rathbone and other scholars put together the pieces of its creation and historical significance. A chapter is devoted to Aline and her role in Renoir's life; other chapters discuss the collectors who made Renoir successful and his painterly eye for props such as the clothes the models wear.
VERDICT By explicating the pictorial representation of Renoir's circle, this book provides a renewed appreciation for its milieu and highlights both history and aesthetics. Highly recommended for all art collections containing impressionist studies.

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