Pierre-Auguste Renoir's "La Loge" (The Theatre Box), 1874, is one of the masterpieces of Impressionism and a major highlight of The Courtauld Gallery's collection. Its depiction of an elegant couple on display in a loge, or box at the theatre, epitomises the Impressionists' interest in the spectacle of modern life. At the heart of the painting is the complex play of gazes enacted by these two figures seated in a theatre box. In turning away from the performance, Renoir focused instead upon the theatre as a social stage where status and relationships were on public display.This book accompanies an exhibition in celebration of The Courtauld Institute of Art's 75th anniversary which unites "La Loge" for the first time with Renoir's other treatments of the subject and with loge paintings by contemporaries, including Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. Concentrating on the early years of Impressionism during the 1870s, the book explores how these artists used the loge to capture the excitement and changing nature of fashionable Parisian society.
Lavishly produced contemporary journals such as "La Mode Illustree" included fine hand-coloured engravings showing the latest fashions modelled by elegant ladies in theatre boxes. A rich selection of this little-known graphic material from contemporary Parisian journals, as well as caricatures from the popular press, will also be examined.