Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Theatre Box

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Theatre Box
Pierre Auguste Renoir, La Loge (Theatre box), 1874, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London (detail).

Painting of the Week

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Theatre Box

Entertainments such as cabarets, theatres and the circus were popular themes among the Impressionist painters whose mission was portraying the modern city life. Theatre in Paris was a rapidly expanding industry during the 19th century where it was important to be seen. Hence it was also a perfect subject for a painter wanting to present a social vanity fair. 

Here we see Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s younger brother Edmond sitting in a theatre box with Nini Lopez, a model known as ‘fish-face’. Edmond uses a pair of opera glasses to scan the audience while Nini holds hers in her hand, her gaze slightly unfocused as if she knows she is being looked at by other operagoers.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Theatre Box

Pierre Auguste Renoir, La Loge (Theatre box), 1874, The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London


Edmond Renoir was a journalist and art critic and it’s hard to tell anything interesting about him (other than that he looks quite handsome in this painting). Yet there is more to tell about his companion: Nini Lopez was a frequent model for Renoir’s paintings, but this particular one was her first one. Known for being serious and punctual, the young woman became the artist’s favourite model between 1875 and 1879, appearing in at least fourteen paintings. In 1877 Nini disappeared from Renoir’s painting following her marriage to a third-rate actor in the Montmartre theatre. Her mother was quite disappointed, as she prefered her daughter to marry someone from the bourgeoisie.

But back to the painting itself. Renoir was the ultimate painter of the pleasures of the eye. His art centred on the concept of art as something ‘chic’. A contemporary critic known as Bertall described ‘chic’ as a ‘bearing, ease of manner, appearance and impromptu elegance…’ This is what The Theatre Box captures with delicate brushstrokes and sensual tones.


The Theatre Box was included in the Impressionists’ first group exhibition in 1874. Critics were divided over it: one saw it as a warning of the dangerous temptations of the fashion industry; another praised its elegance. One thing is known for sure – this painting is a hymn to 19th-century French elegance.

Find out more:

    

Art Historian, founder and CEO of DailyArtMagazine.com and DailyArt mobile app. But to be honest, her greatest accomplishment is being the owner of Pimpek the Cat.

Comments

More in Painting of the Week

  • Ancient

    Painting of the Week: Fragment of a Floor Mosaic with a Personification of Ktisis

    By

    The bejeweled woman from the mosaic, holding the measuring tool for the Roman foot, is identified by the restored Greek inscription as Ktisis. She is a figure personifying the act of generous donation or foundation. Ktisis, in Greek ktísis – is the creation (creature) which is founded from nothing (this is also...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Winslow Homer, Summer Squall

    By

    The crashing waves roar with a deafening thunder, and the foamy spray flies with a quickening speed. Great gusts of wind blow the waters over the rocks and over the sea shore. A storm of monstrous size lands aground and wreaks havoc upon humanity and nature....

  • Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus, 1644, National Gallery, London

    Baroque

    Painting of the Week: Diego Velázquez, The Rokeby Venus

    By

    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599–1660) was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age and European Baroque. And The Rokeby Venus is his only surviving nude, three others are mentioned...

  • 19th Century

    Painting of the Week: Camille Pissarro, Rainbow at Pontoise

    By

    Camille Pissarro has an interesting portfolio of paintings. His works are divided between cosmopolitan views of Paris and countryside views of Pontoise. He is an artist that easily fits in sumptuous parlors and sunny parks. Rainbow at Pontoise is one such painting that showcases the rural charms of the...

  • Artist

    Botero and His Characteristic Chubby Style: Boterism

    By

    Colombian artist, Fernando Botero, demonstrates how differently we can all view the same object. Although, Botero is known for creating thick fat looking figures in his art, he argues that his intention isn’t to represent weighty figures. Instead, his aim is to give prominence to volume....

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy