Bouquet in a Box

Bouquet dans une loge

Here Renoir is more interested in the theatre box than the stage, and even reveals a specific detail of the former. There are no figures visible, just the bouquet of roses belonging to an elegant audience member, wrapped in white paper. Here we find ourselves at the crossroads between a tableau vivant of the world of theatre and a still life or "silent life". Renoir enjoyed introducing a bouquet into his paintings. He also painted still lifes of flowers, influenced by those produced in the 1860s by the painter Edouard Manet (1832-1883).
The box is simply shown by the sinuous line of the partition on the right. The wide red seat, which constitutes the main feature of the background, contrasts with the simply sketched balustrade. There is no sense of depth, which demonstrates a rarely seen influence of Japanese prints on Renoir's work. The bouquet forms a spherical mass, painted using small vigorous strokes, in contrary to the encircling strokes of the paper. The latter is folded in the same way as that of the bouquet in Manet's famous Olympia produced in 1863 and now conserved at the Musée d'Orsay. The bouquet is an allusion to femininity and perhaps a romantic liaison.

Provenance: Ambroise Vollard (?); Paul Guillaume (?); Domenica Walter