Jean Renoir’s A Day in the Country

Stills from A Day in the Country

Jean Renoir (1894-1979), the second son of Pierre-Auguste and Aline Charigot, was an important French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. Jean’s film A Day in the Country (1936) is based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant and situated on the River Loing, south of Paris, in 1880, and echoes subjects in his father’s paintings, such as The Swing (1876, Musée d’Orsay) and many scenes of riverside diversion. Maupassant knew Pierre-Auguste and also frequented the Maison Fournaise. In the film, the Dufour family—out from the city for a day on the river—is depicted as charmed but unprepared for the wild freedoms of the countryside. Jean includes himself as the innkeeper. Pierre Lestringuez, the son of Pierre-Auguste’s close friend, plays a priest.

Jean Renoir was critically wounded in World War I and spent valuable time with his aged father after his mother died in 1915. Their conversations helped him write Renoir, My Father, first published in French in 1958. The book remains a valuable source about the life of the artist from his son’s point of view.

Watch A Day in the Country in the Renoir and Friends exhibition galleries and Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion (1937) on December 14.

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