A Soundtrack for Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party

Gallery Educator Donna Jonte leads a school tour with Pierre-August Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party. Photo: Britta Galanis

One of my favorite things about working at the Phillips is catching a group of young kids on a school tour. Just the other day, as I was taking notes in the galleries, a small stampede of children all donning the same bright yellow t-shirt came in and sat down in front of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party.

As they discussed this work, I was taken to places I had never been with it before. First they spent some time talking about the subjects of the work. The children noticed the people, the setting, and different elements such as what food was on the table. But then they went “inside” the painting. Each child demonstrated what sounds they thought they would hear if they were actually in the painting. One said a bee buzzing; another mentioned the dog and how it might be barking, while the woman holding it made “kissy” noises. Others suggested whooshing of the wind, rustling leaves, and the trickling of the water far in the distance. Then, when directed, they all together made these sounds, creating a soundtrack for the work.

Before this encounter, I looked at Luncheon of the Boating Party in a totally different way. I spent time noticing the artist’s talent in making the glass and liquid in the foreground shimmer. I noticed the composition, or the painterly style so common with the impressionists of this time. These kids (and Gallery Educator Donna Jonte, who led the exercise) helped me take a step back and stop obsessing over the pictorial. They helped me to appreciate this work for what it is: a captured moment in time.

Britta Galanis, Marketing & Communications Intern

15 Most Viewed Phillips Artworks in 2016

We took a look at which of our permanent collection artwork web pages were visited most often during 2016; here’s the top 15 pieces!

15. Pablo Picasso’s The Blue Room (1901)

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Pablo Picasso, The Blue Room, 1901. Oil on canvas, 19 7/8 x 24 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1927 © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Aritsts Rights Society (ARS), New York

14. Honoré Daumier’s The Uprising (1848 or later)

Honoré Daumier, The Uprising, between 1848 and 1879. Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 44 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1925

Honoré Daumier, The Uprising, between 1848 and 1879. Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 44 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1925

13. Milton Avery’s Girl Writing (1941)

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Milton Avery, Girl Writing, 1941. Oil on canvas, 48 x 31 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1943 © 2008 Milton Avery Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

12. Jacob Lawrence’s Panel No. 1: During world war I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans. (1940-41), from The Migration Series

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Jacob Lawrence, Panel no. 1: During World War I there was a great migration north by southern African Americans., 1940–41, Casein tempera on hardboard, 12 x 18 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1942

11. Mark Rothko’s Green and Maroon (1953)

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Mark Rothko, Green and Maroon, 1953. Oil on canvas, 91 1/8 x 54 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1957 © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

10. Henri Matisse’s Interior with Egyptian Curtain (1948)

matisse_interior-with-egyptian-curtain

Henri Matisse, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948. Oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1950 © 2017 Succession H. Matisse/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

9. Vincent van Gogh’s Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles (1888)

van-gogh-entrance-to-the-public-gardens-in-arles-1888

Vincent van Gogh, Entrance to the Public Gardens in Arles, 1888. Oil on canvas, 28 1/2 x 35 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1930

8. Vincent van Gogh’s The Road Menders (1889)

Vincent van Gogh, The Road Menders, 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1949.

Vincent van Gogh, The Road Menders, 1889. Oil on canvas, 29 x 36 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. Acquired 1949

7. Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas’s Dancers at the Barre (c. 1900)

Degas_dancers at the barre

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Barre, ca. 1900. Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 38 1/2 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1944

6. Pierre Bonnard’s The Open Window (1921)

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Pierre Bonnard, The Open Window, 1921. Oil on canvas, 46 1/2 x 37 3/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1930 © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

5. Paul Cézanne’s The Garden at Les Lauves (c. 1906)

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Paul Cézanne, The Garden at Les Lauves (Le Jardin des Lauves), ca. 1906. Oil on canvas, 25 3/4 x 31 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1955.

4. The Laib Wax Room (2013)

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The Laib Wax Room. Photo: Lee Stalsworth

3. The Rothko Room

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The Rothko Room at The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Photo © Robert Lautman

2. Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series (1941)

Visitors looking at Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series (1941) at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Max Hirshfeld

Visitors with Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration Series (1941) at The Phillips Collection. Photo: Max Hirshfeld

1. Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party (between 1880 and 1881)

August Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-1881.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, between 1880 and 1881. Oil on canvas, 51 1/4 x 69 1/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC, Acquired 1923

Staff Show 2016: Travis Houze

In this series, Education Specialist for Public Programs Emily Bray highlights participants in the 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show, on view through September 19, 2016.

Travis Houze, The Purification of Summer

Travis Houze, “The Purification of Summer”

Travis Houze

Travis Houze, Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Travis Houze. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

Tell us about yourself and your work.

If there is anything that I want many to know about my vision, it generally can be summed up in two elements. The first is I use a warm-toned color palette, consisting of darker reds, browns, and yellows. The second is chiaroscuro, where I tend to keep the subjects I photograph illuminated a little more than the background that surrounds them.

What do you do at The Phillips Collection? Are there any unique/interesting parts about your job that most people might not know about?

I currently work as a Museum Assistant. I believe one of the interesting aspects in my job is being close to so many great masters of painting and learning the various different ways the painters use their paints, whether its oil or acrylic.

Who are your favorite artists in the collection?

Some of my favorites in the galleries consist of Pierre-Auguste Renoir for his attention to all the little details, Vincent van Gogh for his distinctive color palette used throughout most of his work, and William Merritt Chase for his use of chiaroscuro (the study of lighter objects against darker objects).

What is your favorite gallery or space within The Phillips Collection?

My favorite gallery space currently is the Music Room. What I love about the location is the grand scale and design of the ceiling and walls, and the fireplace that gives me a sense of the design elements seen in many other buildings in the 20th century.

What would you like people to know about your artwork on view in the 2016 Staff Show (or your work in general)?

I came up with the photograph when the model in the image let me know of a hidden waterfall in the Maryland area. I was astounded by the scale of the waterfall and overall scenery. I knew then that I wanted the model to have some form of interaction with the environment and play the posing out a little more organically than my usual portrait work. I wanted to get as wide a shot as possible to not only show the size of the rocks in comparison to the model, but also the height of the waterfall.

The 2016 James McLaughlin Memorial Staff Show is on view August 14 through September 19, 2016.