I’m delighted to present the third instalment in my series of Blog posts where I take a nostalgic look back at the artwork I grew up with and the paintings which still have special meaning for me today.
Renoir’s ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’ has captivated and enthralled me for decades. With its sense of community, camaraderie and congeniality, I almost wished I was there! Who could resist the delectable food and beverage on the table, or decline an invitation to dine at such an appealing location. Immersing myself in the scene, I could just about hear the wine glasses clinking together in a toast, or the constant low murmur of multiple conversations, faintly observed in the background.
This painting had a paradoxical appeal for me. I loved its energy and vitality and the fact that so much was going on. I would discover new corners of intrigue upon each viewing – new conversations, glances and interactions to decipher.
Yet despite its bustling activity, I still enjoyed the relaxed rapport of the protagonists. Chairs were casually sat upon, ladies draped themselves languidly across the railing, gentlemen leaned in with a tilt of their head to better hear a conversation, and my absolute favourite, the little dog with its mistress engaged in a playful and affectionate tete-a-tete.
The more I looked, the more I came to realise Renoir presented us with a multitude of little windows into simple human contact and interaction. I could take a snapshot of any area in the painting and zoom in on a very personal, meaningful and intimate exchange. What the conversations were about I could only imagine, but imagine I did!
Perhaps what impressed me the most, and still does, is the overall sense of harmony and integration which Renoir created within the painting. How he managed to draw all of these different elements together so successfully was masterful. There is an ease and lightness to how we dance across the canvas, lingering on a face here, bouncing to another there, resting then resuming our journey all so effortlessly and seamlessly. With strategically placed straw hats, the interplay of light and shadow and the arrangement of each character with their own individual attitude and body language, Renoir fashioned a truly cohesive and delightful scene which makes me smile every time I view it.
If you’d like to read about other paintings which have a special meaning for me, please visit ‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth, ‘Eleanor’ by Frank Weston Benson and ‘Tree’ by Rita Angus.