In order to understand how Pierre-August Renoir created Luncheon of the Boating Party, a technical study was conducted in the conservation studio. By closely examining the surface and comparing it to x-radiographic and infrared images, we learn that Renoir made numerous changes both large and small over several months. While he deftly captured the moment of friends casually enjoying an afternoon at a restaurant on the Seine, the in-depth analyisis shows that he labored to capture the immediacy of the scene.
Explore fresh findings from a recent technical analysis of Luncheon of the Boating Party through this interactive feature
Repositioning of the Two Men
The artist made a surprising rearrangement to the pair of men standing at the end of the balcony, indicated in raking light by the underlying textured brushstrokes around their heads. The revision the artist made becomes clear in the infrared image: Charles Ephrussi, wearing the top hat, initially looked out toward the front of the balcony with his head in three- quarter view. By turning him to face the man next to him, Renoir strengthens their relationship, making them appear more involved in conversation.
The infrared image (right) shows a second set of hats, heads, and shoulders, indicating that these
figures were also lowered after the introduction of the awning.
Collections Care Manager Laura Tighe in the Phillips’s conservation studio
We were saddened to hear of the passing of beloved Phillips trustee emeritus and distinguished artist William Christenberry earlier this week. His work continues to resonate and impact in our galleries and beyond. Here, Collections Care Manager Laura Tighe is matting and preparing a microclimate frame for two color photographs by the artist. The works (“Bread of Life,” near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 1989/printed 1995 above at left; “Church across Early Cotton (Vertical View),” Pickinsville, Alabama, 1964/printed 2000 below and to right) will be part of an upcoming solo exhibition in December 2016 at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Gustav Klimt, Birch Forest, 1903. Oil on canvas, 42 1/4 x 42 1/4 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection
In the Seeing Nature exhibition, the Phillips invites visitors to contribute new, imagined conservation discoveries at our interpretive station, “Seeing Beyond the Frame.” For the month of March, exhibition-goers responded to Birch Forest, painted by Gustav Klimt in 1903.
Perhaps due to the poetic quality of Klimt’s work—the way shapes seem to shift from observed forms to an abstracted tapestry of patterns—or perhaps inspired by the recent poetry reading with Mark Doty and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, poetry abounds in this month’s responses. See more or share your own ideas with #SeeingNature.
Inspired by the poetry of images in the exhibition, visitors have submitted a wide variety of poetic responses to Klimt’s Birch Forest.