Le déjeuner des canotiers

  Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880–1881,  Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Now in The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

The painting  depicts a group of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony at the Maison Fournaise restaurant along the Seine in Chatou, France. The painter and art patron, Gustave Caillebotte, is seated in the lower right. Renoir's future wife, Aline Charigot, is in the foreground playing with  dog.

The diagonal of the railing serves to split the two halves of the composition, one packed with figures, the other almost empty, except for the two figures (the proprietor's daughter Louise-Alphonsine Fournaise and her brother, Alphonse Fournaise, Jr.) made prominent by the contrast.  The main source of light is from the large opening in the balcony and above  the  man in the top hat. The tee shirts of the men in the foreground and the table-cloth seem to  reflect this light and send it through the composition.

As he often did in his paintings, Renoir included several of his friends in this painting. Identification of the sitters was made in 1912 by Julius Meier-Graefe. Among them are the following:

1. Aline Charigot, who is holding a dog, sits near the bottom left of the composition. Renoir married her in 1890.
2.Charles Ephrussi—wealthy amateur art historian, collector, and editor of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts—appears wearing a top hat in the background. The younger man to whom Ephrussi appears to be speaking, more casually attired in a brown coat and cap, may be Jules Laforgue, his personal secretary and also a poet and critic.
3. Actress Ellen Andrée`drinks from a glass in the center of the composition. Seated across from her is Baron Raoul Barbier, former mayor of colonial Saigon.
4. Also wearing boaters are figures appearing to be Renoir's close friends Eugène Pierre Lestringez, a bureaucrat, and Paul Lhote, himself an artist. Renoir depicts them flirting with an actress Jeanne Samary in the upper right hand corner of the painting.
5. In the right foreground, Gustave Caillebott wears a white tee shirt and flat-topped straw boater's hat as he sits backwards in his chair next to actress Angèle Legault and Italian journalist Adrien Maggiolo.

Maison Fournaise building today. Note the awning.

09/16/17 WSJ piece about the painting.