An Intimate Exchange

Each week for the duration of the exhibition, we’ll focus on one work of art from Renoir and Friends: Luncheon of the Boating Party, on view October 7, 2017-January 7, 2018.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Boating Couple, 1880–81

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Boating Couple (Les Canotiers), 1880–81. Pastel on paper, 17 3/4 × 23 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Given in memory of Governor Alvan T. Fuller by the Fuller Foundation

The young woman in this exceptional pastel drawing wears a ring on her third finger and holds a bouquet of violets. She gazes into her partner’s eyes and is clearly the object of his affection. This intimate pair is thought to represent Renoir with Aline Charigot, his future wife. During the summer of 1880 the couple spent an increasing amount of time together. This artwork is one of quite a few from this moment in Renoir’s career in which he may reference himself as the male protagonist engaged in an intimate exchange with a young woman generally assumed to be Charigot. Her straw hat, with a silk flower embellishing the ribbon, looks similar to the one worn by Charigot in Luncheon of the Boating Party, whereas he appears to be wearing the jacket donned by writer and critic Adrien Maggiolo in the painting.

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