Luncheon of the Boating Party
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1881, 129.9 × 172.7 cm
The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC

Renoir assembled all his friends and models on the terrace of the Fournaise Inn at Chatou along the River Seine to take part in this great painting

At the front left, Aline Charigot, a model for Renoir who would later become his wife, is playing with her puppy. Behind her is Alphonse Fournaise, the owner of the inn. Leaning on her elbow on the guardrail is Alphonsine Fournaise, daughter of the proprietor, who is listening to Baron Raoul Barbier, seated with his back toward us

To the right, the painter Gustave Caillebotte is sitting straddled over a chair and listening to the actress Ellen Andrée, a popular model among the impressionists, while the Italian journalist Adrien Maggiolo is leaning toward her

Behind them, the small group is formed by the journalist Paul Lhote (with a nose clip), Eugene-Pierre Lestringuez and the actress Jeanne Samary

At the centre, the model Angèle Legault is drinking seated next to a man drawn in profile. Behind her is the art critic and collector Charles Ephrussi, wearing a top hat. At the back, across the willows, we see some sailboats passing over the Seine

The ambience is joyful and serene. However, at the time Renoir's financial situation was not at its best and he did not know when starting this work, in April 1881, if he could ever finish it