Le Déjeuner des Canotiers (Luncheon at the Boating Party) was painted by Impressionist Pierre-August Renoir between 1880 and 1881.
The Impressionists were mostly from a Bourgeois (upper middle-class) background, and many of their paintings, especially those by Renoir, represent leisure scene from the Bourgeoisie. But despite the seemingly typical aspect of the scene depicted here, this is not an ordinary Bourgeois scene. The painting represents a group of Renoir’s friends having lunch on a balcony at the Maison Fournaire, along the Seine, in Chatou, France. Gustave Caillebotte, painter and patron of the Impressionists, is seated on the lower right, and Aline Calignot, Renoir’s future wife, is sat in front of him and plays with a small dog. The actress Ellen Andrée, at the centre of the composition, drinks from a glass with an empty gaze, looking mysterious and pensive.
The wind is blowing in the grass and in the canopy above them. The Impressionists were interested in capturing light in their paintings, and here light comes into the composition from beyond the balcony and it is reflected in the men’s white singlets, on the table cloth, in the bottles and glasses on the table. The colours are striking with richness and intensity and contribute to make the scene even more lively. In this truly beautiful painting, Pierre-Auguste Renoir capture a unique moment, perhaps a few seconds during a lunch party between friends by the river Seine, on a sunny, windy afternoon. The light and colours, the atmosphere, the very movements of the characters are immortalised in this truly Impressionist painting.