Historical Fiction: Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland

5.0 out of 5 stars Art as love

What goes through an artist’s mind during the act of  creating a painting? Susan Vreeland makes that question the theme of Luncheon of the Boating Party. Generally agreed to be one of Renoir’s masterpieces, Luncheon is a huge canvas depicting fourteen people enjoying a repast at an inn along the River Seine. Renoir is depicted at the pivotal point in his career when he was struggling to decide  whether to persist with the impressionist genre, or to incorporate more formal techniques and styles. Provoked by a critical comment from Emile Zola, he embarks upon a quest to produce a work to serve as the definitive rebuttal.

Vreeland immerses her readers within the heart of Montmartre and the romantic Parisian ideal of “modern life”. A joyous commingling of street scenes and cafe society, artists and models, dealers and yachtsmen, Luncheon is an earthy, incandescent evocation of one of the art world’s most momentous eras. Enjoy!

Read as part of the Art History Reading Challenge.

2 thoughts on “Historical Fiction: Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland

  1. Kim says:

    I enjoyed the book, thought it could have used a little editing, but was great to read when I was going to see the painting at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC. I sat in front of it thinking of all the fun stories the author weaved around one work of art.

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