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Renoir: After the luncheon of the boating party
[The French Impressionists]
Provided by the artist - Neil Folberg
© Neil Folberg, courtesy of the artist
In an email Neil Folberg explained the context for this photograph and if it was taken at Maison Fournaise.
The answer is that I did go check out the Maison Fournaise and the porch there, but because it was high and a bit small, I would have had to build scaffolding outside the porch to stand on. Also, because it was still an operating restaurant, I would have had to pay to shut it down for two days (had they agreed).
What happened is that in my early researches, I was wandering around along the river in the little village of Vétheuil near where Monet had lived sometime before he got involved in his grandiose project at Giverny. Someone who had a house right on the river - Stefan is his name - came down to talk to me and invited me for a drink on his porch which overlooked the Seine ... and Stefan is a set designer whose profession is restaurant design. I kept his name for a year or so until I decided to recreate the scene and then went back to see his porch after looking at the Maison Fournaise. It was just so much easier and nicer to work with and he helped create the set. He is seated in the picture with his children and his wife Nina is in the back, the tallest woman standing. She's talking to my good friend Bénedicte. I also used two other friends, Laurent and a cousin of my assistant who is an acting instructor and helped me assign roles to each of the characters. So I was not only recreating the scene of Renoir in a contemporary mode, I was recreating the process, too, where he had used his friends as models and probably had had a pretty good time with them. Believe me, after rehearsing all morning and having a good lunch with plenty of wine we made a party out of this in the late afternoon and by the time we made the shot it wasn't posed - it had become real. That's the story! And I'm still very close friends with Stefan and Nina and Bénedicte ... just saw them all last November.(The other people are hired models or actors, some of whom I used in other staged shots).
(Pers. email, Neil Folberg to Alan Griffiths, 8 April 2014)
This concentrates on the work Neil Folberg completed in France from 2003-2005.