Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
A Box at the Theater (At the Concert), 1880
Oil on canvas, 39 1/8 x 31 3/4 in. (99.4 x 80.7 cm)
Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1928
This painting is the last and arguably the most amibitious of Renoir's depictions of elegant figures in theater boxes. The woman on the left, resplendent in a full-length evening gown, looks directly at the viewer. Her companion, dressed more simply, turns away shyly, revealing her long, luxurious black hair. They hold a musical score and flowers and seem lost in reverie, hardly aware of each other or the performance. The work may have originally been commissioned as a portrait and then reworked into a genre scene; Renoir did make striking changes to the composition, removing a male figure originally in the upper-right corner and altering the facial features and hairstyle of the woman on the left.
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