Luncheon of the Boating Party – Part 1

Finished Study, 16 x 20, gouache on gessoed Cresent water-media boardVive la moderne!

What began as a decorating project has turned into in-depth study of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s 1870 painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

The colors and mood of the painting convey exactly what I want to feel in my kitchen; people enjoying good food, good wine and good company on a light-hearted summer day.

Yet the complexity and magnitude of the painting’s composition eluded me–until I attempted to recreate it! How did Mr. Renoir manage to paint 14 figures, five wine bottles, 10 wine glasses, numerous plates, napkins, utensils, a bowl of fruit, a dog, and three boats in the distance, from live models at life size, all with no preliminary studies? C’est impossible!

Today Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of many superb works of art in The Phillips Collection museum in Washington DC. Someday, I hope to see it in person.

In order to recreate a painting of such magnitude and complexity I had to do a preliminary study to familiarize myself with each component. I’m not a genius like Renoir–who is? I need studies for everything and even then they sometimes flop. Even so, I missed more than a few critical items. (If you can tell what they are, you know more about this painting than most people!) Here’s my progress shots, taken with my iPhone in my studio.

In addition, I consulted The Phillips Collection guide to the painting, read Susan Vreeland’s novel Luncheon of the Boating Party, and dug out Allan’s copy of Barbara Ehrlich White’s Renoir: His Life, Art and Letters.

And yes, I plan to have my copy of this painting hanging in my kitchen – someday!

Finished Study, 16 x 20, gouache on gessoed Cresent water-media board
Finished Study, 16 x 20, gouache on gessoed Cresent water-media board
Day 1: preliminary layout
Day 2: starting to add color
Day 3: continued color block in
Day 4: more color block in and details
Day 5: more color block in and details
Day 6: continued color block in and detail
Day 7: final color block in and all details