Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Small Theater Box, circa 1873/74Back

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The Small Theater Box
circa 1873/74

Oil on canvas
27 x 20,7 cm
Museum Langmatt, Baden
Inv.-no. 179


No, it can’t be. The two of them can barely keep their eyes open—if, indeed, their eyes are not closed already. Tiredness and boredom lie heavy on their faces, even though they are sitting in the theater. On this evening, they set out, leaving their house, wishing to experience something, choosing their wardrobe and fine adornments, which stand out in a positively three-dimensional way. And now this: exhaustion, sleepiness, heavy eyelids. Which of us hasn’t experienced a moment like this? No one wants it to happen, but sometimes it strikes. We try to stave it off, but often we fail. We have bought the expensive tickets in advance, looking forward to the performance. And now, it is all gone, just like that. It may not even be down to the actors on the stage, who are surely making every effort not to give a boring performance, quite the contrary. Or the directors, dramatists, producers, and all the other people involved. Who wants to spread weariness?

Or maybe it is really quite different, and we simply did not look carefully enough: perhaps the play is very exciting, and our two audience members in the box are concentrating intently when a sudden tickle arises in the nose, threatening to become a loud sneeze. The lady reflexively reaches for a handkerchief and raises it to her nose at lightning speed, so quickly that Renoir cannot hold the moment, and has no wish to. As if in a snapshot, the hastily moved handkerchief is noticeably blurred, while the eye is already squeezed shut and the lips are opening under the influence of the impending sneeze.

What does the text in the collection catalogue say? That it is a play program in the woman’s hands. And what do you see?

Markus Stegmann in: «Herzkammer», Museum Langmatt 2020