Romance us please, Renoir

For the first time in 26 years, Renoir’s trio of amorous dancing couples are reunited in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. And boy, do we need some romance in our lives.

Life is far from peachy at the moment in the West: stagnating economies, rising unemployment, a proliferation of extreme right-wing ideologies, decreasing social mobility, and the oxymoronically-phrased ‘negative growth’ all give rise to a rather bleak outlook. Is it any wonder that, whilst many young Westerners escape to the East in search of more prosperous times, those left on the sinking ship turn to drink, drugs, and dangerous driving in order to forget about the futility of their futures?

I may be exaggerating a little but, in these times, many of us are looking for a distraction, or getting ourselves fitted for rose-tinted glasses. This is where the Museum of Fine Arts Boston has been shrewd. The current climate is an ideal time to display three of Renoir’s pink-cheeked, quivering-bosomed Mesdames in the arms of wandering-handed Messieurs, deep in the throes of love, pressing themselves against each other as if they are the only two people in the ballroom/park/countryside.

From left to right:
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance in the City, 1883. Oil on canvas, 180 x 90 cm.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance in the Country, 1883. Oil on canvas, 180 x 90 cm.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Dance at Bougival, 1883. Oil on canvas, 181.9 x 98.1 cm.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

This is for two reasons; firstly, it harks back to a simpler time, where their only care in the world was to drink as much wine and to make as much merriment as possible, and possibly to catch the eye of a potential suitor. Secondly, it represents a much more innocent and romantic type of romance. Renoir depicts the thrill of the dance, the anticipation that somewhere, under half a dozen petticoats and a very confusing contraption masquerading as underwear, there is something worth the trouble to undress for. Grinding to Dubstep in high heels and a tea towel just doesn’t convey the same… tenderness.

This exhibition should come with a disclaimer: you may go in an embittered, old, shrivelled-up hag with a charcoal heart, but you will come out drooling like a teenage girl, who has just discovered that boys really don’t have cooties after all. And maybe, maybe that’s just what we need right now.

If you want to dance with Renoir in person*, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston will be displaying these three paintings until 3 September. If you can’t make it to Boston, you can drool over Renoir from afar with this art book, available in both print and digital formats, including many more of his impressive impressionist paintings.

*There is no guarantee that Renoir will be there in person.