Renoir and Women Models

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.

Nadar (Gaspar-Félix Tournachon), Angèle, Modern silver gelatin print from an original of c. 1878

Nadar (Gaspar-Félix Tournachon), Angèle, Modern silver gelatin print from an original of c. 1878, Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques et des Sites, Paris

Renoir celebrated not only natural female beauty but also a woman’s attire and the way in which the line of a dress or shape of a hat could flatter her appearance. The son of a tailor and a dressmaker, he naturally came by this appreciation for line, texture, and style. Friends and mistresses would pose for him as a favor, but he also hired models in Montmartre. Among those who appear in Renoir’s work numerous times in the late 1870s and early 1880s were three actresses—Ellen Andrée, Angèle (who also made a living as a florist), and Jeanne Samary.

Angèle may have modeled for the woman in the lower right corner of Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Her name was associated with the painting as early as 1891. It is possible, however, since the woman in the painting also resembles Ellen Andrée, that Andrée and Angèle modeled interchangeably as Renoir worked on his grand composition.

Charles Ephrussi: Collector and Critic

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.

Critic and collector Charles Ephrussi was vital to Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s emerging reputation at the time leading up to the creation of Luncheon of the Boating Party. Born in Odessa (formerly Russia, now Ukraine) in 1849 to a family of grain exporters who became international bankers, Charles Ephrussi studied there and in Vienna, arriving in Paris in 1871. Almost immediately his travels, studies, and friendships led him to collecting, beginning with Italian Renaissance works, 16th-century tapestries, and Japanese lacquer boxes; then expanding his collecting to include Meissen porcelain and 18th-century French decorative arts, while never neglecting the art of his time. He became an early and significant collector of Impressionist painting, and reviewed the Impressionist exhibitions of 1880 and 1881 for the Gazette des beaux-arts, a publication for which he became its co-owner in 1885 and its director from 1894 until he died in 1905.

Renoir and Friends features works from Charles Ephrussi’s collection, including this painting by Édouard Manet, whom Ephrussi greatly admired. Ephrussi purchased A Bunch of Asparagus for a higher price than the artist expected. In gratitude, Manet created an additional painting of a single stalk of asparagus (also in the exhibition) as a present for Ephrussi, saying, “There was one missing from your bunch.”

Édouard Manet, A Bunch of Asparagus, 1880

Édouard Manet, A Bunch of Asparagus (Une botte d’asperges), 1880. Oil on canvas, 18 1⁄8 × 21 11⁄16 in. Wallraf-Richartz-Museum & Fondation Corboud Cologne

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.