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01 November, 2016
Book Review: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland
Author: Susan Vreeland
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2008
There are paintings throughout history that are very well known by everyone. Pierre August Renoir's painting Le Déjeuner des canotiers also known as The Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of those paontings that helped make the Impressionism movement as well known as it is today. Author Susan Vreeland has taken this painting and the creation of it and written a narrative that takes readers back to Paris in the 1880's when Renoir undertook the large scale creation of a painting that he envisioned showing in the yearly salon. In this painting, he had fourteen friends model for him on the terrace of the restaurant La Maison Fournaise. Bt including a mixture of men, women, and high society as well as working class men and women in his painting, Renoir showed the changing ideals of Parisian society. The author draws her readers into the life of Renoir and life in Paris after the Prussian War in a beautiful and engaging way.
I adored this book, personally. I grew up in a home that adored the Impressionists. My artists father had prints of many of Monet's paintings hanging up. I spent much time as a child in the Impressionist gallery of the Art Institute as a child and teenager looking at the paintings on display by Monet, Renoir, Mary Cassualt, Georges Seurat, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. I still have a love of this art movement and it's influence on future movements such as the post impressionists and the Neo-Impressionists.
I started with an audio copy which has a wonderful reader. However, and I I ended up switching to a print copy as I was having trouble keeping characters and events in mind and the book let me easily flip back to remind myself of events and people. I found this to be an interesting narrative of the composition and execution of this painting. I really feel like I got a glimpse into Renoir's life and mind while he was painting.