The Rowers’ Breakfast by Renoir is a famous Impressionist painting, one of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s finest.
It was painted in 1880-1881 and depicts a group of people having breakfast on a terrace on the banks of the Seine.
The Rowers’ Breakfast by Renoir
Renoir’s The Rowers’ Breakfast was not painted at a single moment, but over several outdoor sittings during the summer of 1880 on the terrace of a restaurant near Chatou on the Seine.
The idea for the painting came to Renoir while he was walking along the banks of the Seine with some boating friends.
The artist’s wish was to portray his friends having breakfast, in a moment of relaxation after a long day of training.
Naturally, Renoir included not only the rowers in the painting but also other characters, his friends, who did not row.
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROWERS’ BREAKFAST
In the scene painted in Renoir’s Rowers’ Breakfast, three men and five women can be seen, all dressed in elegant, colourful clothes.
The rowers are Renoir’s young friends, who often accompanied him on his sojourns on the Seine.
They are all around a table on which plates, cutlery, glasses and bottles of wine are arranged. Fresh fruit, bread and croissants, cold meats and cheeses, eggs and bacon can be seen in the painting, accompanied by red and white wine.
The scene is characterised by a convivial and relaxed atmosphere, with the characters exchanging smiles and smug looks. The lighting is warm and subdued, with golden reflections standing out against the surface of the water.
In general, the rowers’ breakfast represents a moment of pause and pleasure, where nature, art and friendship come together in perfect harmony.
CURIOSITIES ABOUT THE ROWERS’ BREAKFAST
The scene is set in a restaurant Renoir often frequented called La Maison Fournaise.
The painted characters include Aline Charigot, Renoir’s wife, who is playing with a small dog; Alphonsine Fournaise, who is leaning on the railing; Paul Lhote with a top hat; Lestringuez leaning over a friend; Ellen Andrée, looking at Lestringuez.
Years after this work was created, Jean Renoir, the artist’s son, visited this place and declared that he was amazed and disappointed to see such a beautiful place, immortalised in one of Renoir’s most famous works, transformed into an almost unhealthy environment due to the presence of factories, piles of coal and dirty water.
The terrace on the Seine seen in the painting, however, still exists today and has been restored to become a place dedicated to the history of the Impressionists.
THE SUCCESS OF THE WORK AND ITS CURRENT LOCATION
The painting was initially rejected by the jury of the Salon, the official French art exhibition of the time, but was exhibited at the debut of the Impressionists, during their first exhibition in 1874, where it was very successful.
Renoir’s work was later bought by art collector Paul Durand-Ruel, who turned it into one of the most important works in his collection.
Today, Renoir’s Breakfast of the Rowers is on display at The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.
The painting has inspired many other artists and art movements, including Fauvism and Cubism, and has become an icon of French culture.