Dating back to 1881, The Rowers’ Breakfast is one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s most famous paintings . Held in the first museum of modern art in the United States, the Philips Collection of Washington, the painting portrays a scene of everyday life that takes place in a small village along the Seine, where rowers gather for lunch with friends and acquaintances. In what appears as a simple photograph of an instant, various references to the painter’s biography and the revolution he enacted in the pictorial field are hidden. Here, four things to know to watch “The Rowers’ Breakfast” with new eyes. Makes a fleeting moment immortal
Beyond the pictorial innovations, the Impressionists were also witnesses of their time. Renoir loved to paint Paris and the Parisians, the dances, the meetings at the café, treating everyday life with the same dignity that the painting of the time reserved for biblical, historical and mythological themes. In fact, at “The rowers’ breakfast”, we recognize the merit of having immortalized a moment of daily life to make it eternal . Even today, when we look at this painting, we seem to perceive the warmth of the sun filtering through the red curtains of the restaurant, but also the coolness of the surrounding vegetation. We seem to hear the festive chatter, the scents of wine and the fruity smells that come from the set table.In the years when photography was born, painters looked at reality with the eye of someone who wants to stop what is fleeing and focuses on the perception of reality as it changes . So color is preferred to contours, quick and short ones to long and solemn brushstrokes, to the analysis of proportions the study of light and its reflections. It is set in a French village.
This is the last painting that Renoir paints before leaving for Italy and presents the traces of a change that is about to arrive, including, for example, the choice of setting. In fact, from Paris we move to a village on the island of Chatou, where the Fournaise restaurant stood, a meeting place for rowers and a beloved place frequented by the painter for a long time.. Built in 1857 by the carpenter Alphonse Fournaise, the building was originally used for boat rental. Rowing was becoming a favorite sport for Parisians in those years, but the Fournaise was soon expanded into a restaurant and small hotel. Renoir loved to spend his days at the Fournaise with his partner Aline and paid the bill for the meal with paintings that had the restaurant or the surrounding landscape as a backdrop. The people in the painting are Renoir’s friends. Fourteen figures animate “The Rowers’ Breakfast” and, by observing them closely, familiar faces can be seen. Around the laid table, friends and acquaintances of the painter gather, including his partner and future wife Aline Charigot, portrayed in the foreground playing with the little dog. In the thoughtful girl leaning on the balustrade we recognize the features of Alphonsine Fournaise, then we find Paul Lhote with the top hat, Charles Eprussi (in the background with the tuba), a rich banker whom Renoir met in the Charpentier drawing room, but also Antonio Maggiolo, the journalist who had left Italy to seek his fortune. Leaning against the balustrade is also Alphonse Fournaise, son of the owner of the restaurant, who wears a white sailor shirt and a straw hat. And quoted in “The fabulous world of Amelie” Amelie : I really like this painting! Raymond: And the Rowers’ Breakfast, by Renoir. Here, I’ve been doing one a year, for twenty years. The hardest thing is the looks. Sometimes I get the impression that they change their expression on purpose, but as soon as I turn my back, eh
[…] Well, after all these years the only person I still struggle to outline is the girl with the glass of water. And in the center and yet neither and outside. Amelie : Maybe it’s just different from the others. Raymond : Eh
In what Amelie : I don’t know …

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