Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841 û 1919) and Georges Seurat (1859 û 1891) were contemporaries whose contributions to the ônew artö of the late 19th century were of enormous significance. This brief report will compare a single painting by each artist. RenoirÆs Luncheon of the Boating Party (1991) and SeuratÆs A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884- 1886) were painted at roughly the same time, but the two paintings represent very different styles.
RenoirÆs Luncheon of the Boating Party is set in an open air restaurant on the Island of Chatou; it depicts friends of the painter amusing themselves. According to Michael Wood (p. 248), Renoir was fond of images of the happy side of human life and preferred to paint carefree, joyous subjects. He was also interested in (and talented at) portraiture; in this painting, seated at the right and wearing a boatmanÆs hat, is the artist Gustave Caillebotte. Others in the painting include the actress Elle Andress, Baron Barbier, and RenoirÆs mode and future wife Aline Charigot (Wood, p. 248). The painting, which is in the vivid, sun-drenched colors that Renoir favored, has as strong diagonal line established by the white linen of the tablecloth, around which are arranged a number of standing and seated figures. Wood (p. 248) states that the casual air,
ôwith a seemingly random gathering of figures, has all the spontaneity of MonetÆs or ManetÆs work, but a close study of this picture reveals how carefully Renoir orchestrated
his scene, creating the pairings and groupings that order
Helen Gardner (p. 682) says of this painting that RenoirÆs primary interest was to concentrate on the human figure and its spatial relationship to other figures. The asymmetrical design working in on diagonals, says Gardner (p. 683), is reminiscent of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec, ôis based on easy movements guided by the figures and stabilized by repeated