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Renoir, La Loge

Pierre Auguste Renoir, La Loge, 1874, oil on canvas, 31 1/2 x 24 5/8 in. (80 x 63.5 cm) (Courtauld Gallery, London) Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Rachel S. Ropeik This painting was exhibited by Renoir at the first Impressionist exhibition in Paris (1874). Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.

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  • female robot grace style avatar for user divaCassandra1
    Is she a wife or a mistress? Men of the upper class during this time would have a mistress as a status symbol to display their wealth. From the way the critics were talking about the symbols in the painting, and the viewer in the 1870s understanding the symbols, I think they were saying she was a mistress. What do you think?
    (6 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user kongpower007
      It seems most likely to be a mistress and my reasons for it is as follows. One, if she was his wife, I believe the painter would have gave them more of a sense of unity with one another as in the painting the two seem emotionally distant. If she was his wife I would have believed here to have a pair of binoculars herself or they would have participated in the act of spying and gossiping with each other. Two, if the painting did depict a couple, the central figure would not be the woman, but rather both, but as you can see the main subject is the woman. The husband plays a supporting role and is more in the background of the painting.
      (8 votes)
  • leaf blue style avatar for user Cameron Christensen
    I searched Google for "Nini Fish-Face" () but couldn't find much info on who she was. Does anyone know more about this person? A link to an external resource would be appreciated. Thanks!
    (5 votes)
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  • female robot grace style avatar for user Penelope Stuart
    Was impressionism originally called impressionism when it began in the 1800s? Or is that a newer title for this style of painting?
    (2 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Thomas Deprez
      The term "Impressionism" was taken over from a critic ridiculing the 1874 group exhibition, which has become known as the "First Impressionist exhibition". The critic appropriated the name from the title of a painting by Claude Monet "Impression, "Soleil levant", to describe the painters who came together to expose their works in the atelier of Nadar on the Boulevard des Capucines. Not long after this public derision, these painters (among whom people as Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, Monet, Sisley and others) started to refer to themselves and the informal group as "Impressionist painters" and thus is still in use today. We can fairly state that Impressionism as such starts in 1874 with their first exhibition, the criticism and their pride in the public's impossibility to see the revolutionary style of painting to it's worth.
      (5 votes)
  • female robot grace style avatar for user Endless learner
    Did Renoir ever marry?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Evalyn P
    This La Loge painting by Renoir hangs in the New York residence office of Melania Trump, Donald Trumps wife. Yes, that Donald Trump. Do the Trumps own the original painting that is in this discussion? Is the painting that hangs in Melania Trump's office a copy or the original? Thank you for your help.
    (1 vote)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Valencia Miller
    what is the value of the oil painting?
    (0 votes)
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Video transcript

(piano music) Voiceover: So, here we are looking at La Loge, which is a painting by Pierre Auguste Renoir in the Courtauld Galleries in London and it's from 1874, which is the magical year of the beginning of the Impressionist Exhibitions, which actually they just started out as paintings that weren't accepted at the official yearly exposition of paintings, and then all the Impressionists said, "Well, if you're not going to accept our paintings we'll start our own show," and that was the year, 1874. Voiceover: Yeah, they were desperate for some recognition. Voiceover: They needed someone to look at them. Voiceover: Yeah. This was a time when they were no real galleries for contemporary art and they wanted people to see it. Voiceover: Interestingly enough, though we may not think of it this way this would have been shocking at the time, the way this was painted. Voiceover: Oh it's incredibly loosely painted. Voiceover: Very much so, and it's this scene of modern life. It's not a classical story, or a religious story or anything. It's two people out at the theater as you would go to the theater in the 1870s. Voiceover: I guess the loge was a level of the theater just like it is today. Right? Voiceover: They were kind of in like an opera box, and this is very much what people would do. You'd sit in the loge and the woman always sat in front by the railing, and you can see she has her right arm resting on this cushioned railing. Then the man would sit behind her and look at other people. Voiceover: Right. Voiceover: He's not looking down toward a stage at all. Voiceover: No, he's looking around to see who else is at the theater. Voiceover: Exactly. Voiceover: And who they're with. Voiceover: It was a very gossipy society. I suppose it's not that different from our celebrity tabloids obsession. You know who's out with who and who's wearing what. Voiceover: It's like the whole painting though is really this pyramid shape of black and white stripes formed by her dress. What a great dress. Voiceover: I know. The thing that always impresses me about this painting is that it is very loosely painted, but you get a lot of detail of what she's wearing and her pearls and her corsage and her earrings and the flowers in her hair. He manages to get that all in there without giving you exact detailed contours of everything. Voiceover: So, she's really upper class, right? I mean this is an expensive dress, it looks to me. Voiceover: It was an expensive dress, but she's probably not his wife. The women who wore the most ostentatious dresses were actually sort of these upper class courtesans who would be trotted out on the arm of their patrons which is probably who this man is in the background. The woman who posed for this was actually a fairly famous artist's model whose nickname I always like, which was Nini Fish-Face. (laughing) Voiceover: That doesn't sound very nice. Voiceover: Well I think she has a lovely face. Voiceover: She's beautiful. What's important to remember as we're talking about this, for me, is that we look at this and this just looks like two people dressed up at the opera and we easily lose sight of what it was like in Paris in the 1870s. Issues of class and dress and all these codes that are kind of lost to us now but that we really need to decode the painting. Voiceover: It's very enjoyable just to look at the sumptuousness of her dress but then also thinking about the idea that this was a scene of modern life. Voiceover: This way that she's on display. She immediately becomes a specific kind of woman. Voiceover: Yes, and the status symbol and social class that's inherint in that. Voiceover: But without that modesty of a middle class woman who would have gone to the opera and without also probably a kind of modestly and uprightness of a truly aristocratic woman. So she becomes a very specific type. Voiceover: But I love thinking that a contemporary viewer of this would have known that right away. Voiceover: Immediately. Voiceover: And people had this whole body of knowledge at the time of what social class you belonged to based on how you presented yourself in public. Voiceover: And it might be interesting also then to go out into our own world, out into the streets of London and think about the ways that we read people based on what they wear and who they're with. (piano music)