Luncheon (Le Déjeuner)
Oil on canvas
Inv. No. SG 170
232 × 151 cm
This scene is set in Étretat in the house of a patron, where Monet had taken refuge from his Parisian creditors and critics. Now he sought to make a fresh beginning and was enjoying the life of a family man. He portrayed his companion Camille and little Jean many times. The sources confirm that the family was in the custom of gathering for an abundant luncheon at noon. There is company, and now everyone is waiting for the painter who has been working at his easel since sunrise. The large, monumentalizing format is unusual for a subject so personal. Monet submitted the work to the Paris Salon in 1870, but it was rejected. Nevertheless, he continued to identify with this painting and showed it in 1874 at the Impressionists’ first joint exhibition in the studio of a friend, the photographer Nadar. There the critics were fascinated with the “modern light in the curtains”. The story of the Déjeuner’s success had thus been launched, and it earned approval at many an exhibition before being purchased for the Städel in 1910. By then, Monet had long since turned away from figural painting and devoted himself to nature as his main artistic concern.
From 18 September 2014 to 18 January 2015 the painting is in the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris in the exhibition "Impression Soleil Levant”.