A Box at the Theater (At the Concert)

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Renoir made several paintings of spectators at theaters or concerts—a subject that explores the theme of seeing and being seen. Although the artist may have begun the painting as a portrait of specific individuals, he later reworked it to present two women whose identities and relationship are unknown. The subdued lighting and clearly defined forms suggest that Renoir was beginning to modify his experimental painting techniques by adopting a more traditional approach, as several critics noted when the work was first exhibited in 1882.


[Dubourg, Paris, sold to Durand-Ruel, 30 Nov. 1880, as  ];¹ [Durand-Ruel, Paris, from 1880]; [Durand-Ruel, New York, until 1928, consigned to Holston]; [William H. Holston Galleries, New York, sold to Clark, 28 May 1928]; Robert Sterling Clark (1928–55); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1955.

1. Durand-Ruel Archives, Paris, “Journal 1880,” 30 Nov. 1880. See also Hayward Gallery, Renoir, exhibition catalogue, 1985–86, p. 219, and Colin B. Bailey, Renoir's Portraits: Impressions of an Age, exhibition catalogue, 1997–98, p. 49n164.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

French, 1841–1919

A Box at the Theater (At the Concert)


Oil on canvas

39 1/8 x 31 3/4 in. (99.4 x 80.7 cm) Frame: 49 1/2 × 41 5/8 × 3 1/4 in. (125.7 × 105.7 × 8.3 cm)

Acquired by Sterling and Francine Clark, 1928