But the pictures are quite different in style and approach. Renoir directs his attention towards the social aspect of the gathering, making the pleasure-seekers’ clothes, countenance and interaction his primary pictorial concern.
For Monet people are not the point; his interests focused on the effects of the natural light on the water, boats and sky. His painting is crisper, less romantic than Renoir’s soft-focus evocation of a halcyon day, his colour palette more harmonious, his compositional structure more rigid.
The biggest difference, though, is in the amount of rigour applied to accurate documentation. Monet’s rendition of the event is a believable account, whereas Renoir’s effort is sentimental and saccharine, a picture that owes as much to eighteenth-century Rococo as it does to Impressionism.
Neither artist had enjoyed much success with the Academy. Nor had Pissarro, who by the time he met Durand-Ruel in London was struggling financially; as was Monet, who had the burden of a mistress and young child to support.
For both artists the encounter with the art dealer could not have been more welcome. The feeling was mutual. Durand-Ruel’s highly attuned visual antennae, developed over decades, could identify exceptional painterly talent in seconds.
He inspected the artists’ work, heard their story, and knew that he had found the elusive next step for his business.
These two young painters, schooled in the artistic philosophy of the Barbizons, represented the future for his gallery and, possibly, for that of art.
To the great financial relief of Monet and Pissarro, Durand-Ruel immediately purchased paintings from both of them for his gallery at 168 New Bond Street, London.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.