Renoir At The Theatre
Renoir’s La Loge (The Theatre Box) of 1874 is the centrepiece of Renoir at the Theatre: Looking at 'La Loge’, the recently opened exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery in Somerset House, London. The exhibition brings together major Impressionist paintings on the theme of the Parisian theatre, including works by Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. Although I'm no fan of Impressionism, this painting grabs me. It has psychological depth: a couple that isn't a couple. Wistfully she watches the performance while he uses his opera glasses to spot celebrities in the audience! If I'm reading into this subtle portrait of incompatibility what Renoir intended I should see, then this is truly a masterpiece.
Compare it with another of the exhibits: Mary Cassatt's Lydia at the Theatre (1879). Only five years separate these two paintings, but they are worlds apart. Cassatt's bare-shouldered Lydia emphasizes the glamour of the occasion and lacks any period or psychological depth - it could be a fuzzy photo taken at a Hollywood opening night -, whereas Renoir homes in on a prim couple locked in their own private yet divided box. The exhibition continues until 25 May.